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Rose row set to rumble on

MARKS and Spencer is this week preparing to post better-than-expected sales figures for the first quarter, though the results will remain overshadowed by growing unrest among shareholders regarding Sir Stuart Rose&rsquo;s dual leadership role.<br /><br />According to analysts, favourable weather patterns and a late Easter should have boosted the retailer&rsquo;s performance over the first quarter. M&amp;S is expected to report a 1.8 &ndash; 3.5 per cent drop in like-for-like sales during the three months to the end of June when it updates the market on Wednesday. This would be a marked improvement from the 4.2 per cent plunge in sales that the group suffered over the previous quarter.<br /><br />But Rose is facing renewed calls to share power, a year after he quashed an investor insurgence over his elevation from chief executive to executive chairman, a move that contravenes best corporate governance guidelines.<br /><br />Shareholder advisory groups have urged investors to support a resolution to split the chairman and chief executive roles at the firm&rsquo;s annual meeting on 8 July. Around 20 per cent of shareholders are understood to have pledged their support.<br /><br />The resolution was filed by the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, which is calling for a new independent chairman to be appointed by July 2010, ahead of Rose&rsquo;s planned 2011 retirement. Former Hilton boss Sir David Michels is tipped for the job.