SIR STUART ROSE’S retail track record stretches as far back as the 1970s, when he was known to sweep the warehouse floors during his time as a management trainee at Marks & Spencer.
Since then his career has taken in shelf stacking, pyjama folding and clothes hanging before he took the top job at Marks & Sparks, a testament to the rewards of getting one’s hands dirty.
So he should be well suited to his new chairmanship at online grocery business Ocado, announced yesterday to cheers among the firm’s long-suffering shareholders.
Ocado’s three founders are not averse to mucking in themselves. In the early days of the business, when the firm was struggling to hire staff fast enough to cope with demand for its home-delivered hummus and biofair quinoa, the founders were known to nip down to the distribution centre to help out their hard-working stock pickers and bag packers in order to complete overnight orders on time.
So experienced were Tim Steiner, Jason Gissing and Jonathan Fairman in the ways of the warehouse that they named their company after the avocado, among the most difficult perishable items to get through the delivery chain in one piece.
On the subject of whether 63-year-old Rose will relive his bag-packing days in his new role, Ocado was strangely mute.