Marks & Spencer's share price climbed this morning, after revealing chief executive Marc Bolland is leaving the company after yet another period of poor performance.
Bolland will be succeeded by Steve Rowe, executive director of general merchandise. He will remain as chief executive and on the board until 2 April, and will remain "available" to Rowe during the handover until 30 June.
Marks & Spencer's share price fell one per cent on the open, but recovered to go into positive territory shortly afterwards. It was up 1.5 per cent at 8:30am.
His departure - which has been widely expected after a sustained period of underperformance - comes as the business posted yet another poor set of results for its clothing arm.
Total sales at the retailer's general merchandise division fell five per cent in the third quarter, while like-for-likes slumped 5.8 per cent.
M&S acknowledged it had been a "disappointing" 13 weeks to 26 December.
M&S chairman Robert Swannell said: "Over the last six years Marc Bolland has led Marks & Spencer through a period of necessary change. Over this time, the company has made significant investment in enhanced infrastructure and capabilities.
"It is now positioned for a digital age, with its own on-line platform and dedicated e-commerce distribution centre, improved design and sourcing capabilities in general merchandise and an industry-leading track record of growth and innovation in the Food business. Marc has put Plan A at the heart of the business and leaves a strong sustainability legacy.
"The board is very grateful to Marc for his leadership in this important period of enhancing Marks & Spencer's competitive position for its future."
Bolland said "It has been a huge honour to lead one of Britain's most iconic companies. I am delighted to handover to Steve Rowe as my successor.
"I have worked closely with Steve for six years and I am convinced that he will be a great leader for Marks & Spencer. I would like to thank all my colleagues and the board at Marks & Spencer for being so supportive of the drive to prepare M&S for the future. I am proud to leave such a large group of talent behind in the business."
Rowe has been with the group for more than 25 years and been a board member since 2012. He has held a number of roles including director of retail and ecommerce.
In 2012, he was appointed executive director of food and was brought over to help the ailing clothing division in July last year.
Swannell said: "I am delighted that, after the most rigorous succession planning, Marc will be succeeded by Steve Rowe. Steve has a deep knowledge of Marks & Spencer and a proven track record of delivering results in key parts of the business.
"The nomination committee was unanimous in supporting Steve's appointment in the light of his considerable knowledge of the business and its people, his appetite to continue the process of change, particularly in general merchandise, his perceptive and effective problem solving, his values and his observed leadership."
Steve Rowe said, "It is a great privilege to be appointed chief executive of Marks & Spencer and to have the opportunity to lead this unique company and all its people forward."