The CEO of Marks & Spencer has announced his intention to retire this year as the retailer revealed a dip in sales.
Marc Bolland will be succeeded by Steve Rowe, the executive director of general merchandise, after six years in the role.
He will remain on the Board until April 2 and will assist the transition until June 30.
His surprise exit was revealed as Marks & Spencer announced a fall in sales in its general merchandise sector, which includes lingerie, clothing and beauty.
The retailer said like-for-like sales fell 5.8% in the 13 weeks to December 26 due to “unseasonal conditions and availability”.
Bolland said: “General merchandise sales were disappointing. We continued to prioritise gross margin and held back from heavy discounting seen across the market in the run up to Christmas. As a result we now expect GM gross margin to be at the top end of the guided range.”
Despite the fall in sales, M&S chairman Robert Swannell told reporters in a conference call that there was no pressure on Bolland to leave the company.
In a statement, he added: “Over the last six years Marc Bolland has led Marks & Spencer through a period of necessary change. Over this time, the company has made significant investment in enhanced infrastructure and capabilities.
“It is now positioned for a digital age, with its own on-line platform and dedicated e-commerce distribution centre, improved design and sourcing capabilities in General Merchandise and an industry-leading track record of growth and innovation in the Food business. Marc has put Plan A at the heart of the business and leaves a strong sustainability legacy. The Board is very grateful to Marc for his leadership in this important period of enhancing Marks & Spencer’s competitive position for its future.”
Bolland commented: “It has been a huge honour to lead one of Britain’s most iconic companies. I am delighted to handover to Steve Rowe as my successor. I have worked closely with Steve for six years and I am convinced that he will be a great leader for Marks & Spencer.”