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Sir Stuart again failed to tell the City his succession plans

ONE of the most hotly-debated succession sagas looks set to keep on rolling&nbsp;&nbsp; as M&amp;S yesterday shunned questions about how the search for Sir Stuart Rose&rsquo;s successor was progressing.<br /><br />Rose furiously batted away questions on the M&amp;S&rsquo;s succession plans,&nbsp; despite it being a concern weighing heavily on many analysts&rsquo; minds. <br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not answering questions on succession &ndash; my answer is the same as it always was&rdquo;, he indignantly responded to all inquiries.<br /><br />The company says it will appoint a chief executive next year &ndash; when Rose will become non-executive chairman before leaving the group completely by July 2011 &ndash; and would prefer an internal appointment. It appears Rose is keen to remain silent until then.<br /><br />Reporting on the group&rsquo;s half-year figures yesterday Rose was flanked by&nbsp; internal candidates all tipped for the role: finance director Ian Dyson, director of clothing Kate Bostock and head of food John Dixon.<br /><br />Dyson is the analysts&rsquo; preferred internal contender due to his number-crunching skills and an impressive performance at the retailer&rsquo;s investor day. Most commentators cruelly still view Dixon as Rose&rsquo;s former assistant and believe it will be hard for him to creep out of Rose&rsquo;s shadow.&nbsp; <br /><br />Many think an external candidate will still pip the inside track runners to the post. Names suggested have been a Who&rsquo;s Who of British retail: HMV boss Simon Fox, WM Morrison&rsquo;s Marc Bolland, J Sainsbury&rsquo;s Justin King; WH Smith&rsquo;s Kate Swann; and former Jaeger chief Belinda Earl. <br /><br />The link with M&amp;S has sparked exasperated responses from virtually all players, leaving some to question whether this will become a repeat of ITV&rsquo;s fruitless search for a leader. Little wonder some of the City&rsquo;s great and good have raced to rule themselves out.