Rose leaves M&S as new era begins

SIR Stuart Rose said farewell to Marks & Spencer (M&S) yesterday, drawing to a close a colourful six years at the helm of the retailer.

He formally hands over the reins of chairman to former City banker Robert Swannell today.

Sir Stuart, 61, was hailed as an inspiration after steering M&S to a £1bn profit, but fell foul of shareholders after a period in which he acted as chairman and chief executive, sparking fears that he was wielding too much power.

The move was also against corporate governance guidelines.

Former Wm Morrison boss Marc Bolland joined as chief executive in May, paving the way for Rose to step down as chief executive, and now chairman.

Sir Stuart started his retail career in 1972 when he joined M&S as a management trainee.

He left the firm to work in a series of posts at rival retailers including Debenhams and Argos.

However, he made his mark at fashion firm Arcadia after presiding over the sale of the company to Sir Philip Green. He reportedly made £25m from the deal.

After returning to an ailing M&S in 2004, he put the company back on track by reviewing the ranges offered by the company as well as launching a series of successful advertising campaigns. New chairman Swannell has retail experience from his time as chairman of HMV Group. He also advised M&S during the hostile takeover battle with Green.

Rose said: “I feel I have done the job I was hired to do at M&S. People forget what a dilapidated state it was in when I took over.”

He has taken on an advisory role at private equity firm Bridgepoint.

TIME LINE | THE CAREER OF SIR STUART ROSE

1972 to 1989
Sir Stuart began his retailing career as a management trainee at M&S, working there from 1972 to 1989.

1989 to 2000
Works in management positions at retailers including Burton Group, Debenhams and as chief executive of Argos.

2000
Becomes chief executive of Arcadia Group – which he sold to Sir Philip Green in 2002. Made £25m himself.

2004
Returns to M&S in the position of chief executive. Taken on to steady the ship after share price plunge. Sees off a bid for the business from Green.

2007
Rose is given a knighthood in recognition of his services to business after steering M&S back to health and re-thinking the company’s ranges.

2008
Applauded by shareholders for steering firm to a £1bn profit in tough economic times.

2009
His reputation is dented as he is attacked for taking on the dual role of chairman and chief executive, and allowing over-excessive boardroom pay.

2010
Former Morrisons chief Marc Bolland takes over as chief executive but Rose continues to oversee the business as he assesses the changes he wants to make. His strategy statement eventually reveals that he would not radically change the firm.

4 Jan 2011
Officially steps away from M&S leaving Robert Swannell as new chairman.