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Marks & Spencer promotes Dixon to the board fuelling Rose succession talk

MARKS &amp; Spencer (M&amp;S) has promoted its head of food, John Dixon, to its executive board, strengthening his chance of succeeding Stuart Rose as chief executive next year.<br /><br />M&amp;S has always said it would prefer an internal candidate to succeed Rose, and signs of recovery at the group&rsquo;s upmarket food business in recent months have seen some commentators identify Rose&rsquo;s prot&eacute;g&eacute; Dixon as the most likely successor.<br /><br />The 23-year M&amp;S veteran faces competition from finance director Ian Dyson and head of clothing Kate Bostock, while external including Sainsbury&rsquo;s Justin King and Asda&rsquo;s Andy Bond have also been tipped.<br /><br />Rose has been under fire from some investors since 2008, when he combined the roles of chief executive and chairman against corporate governance guidelines.<br /><br />Britain&rsquo;s biggest clothing retailer has said it would appoint a new chief executive next year and that Rose would step down as chairman by July 2011 at the latest.<br /><br />Shore Capital analyst Kate Calvert said Dixon&rsquo;s elevation increased his chances of becoming chief executive.