[LONDON] Marc Bolland will step down as the boss of Marks & Spencer in April, bringing an end to six difficult years at the British retailer following yet another poor Christmas trading.
The 132-year-old stalwart of Britain's shopping streets said on Thursday that Bolland had informed the board he would go in April and the firm has appointed Steve Rowe, the current head of its non-food business, as his successor.
Mr Bolland had battled to bring M&S back to its glory days, spending billions of pounds on the redesign of products, stores, supply chain logistics and the website to address decades of under investment at the clothing business.
He had won some time by focusing on growing gross margins - the difference between the price M&S pays for goods and the price it sells them - rather than chasing unprofitable non-food sales.
But the weak trading over Christmas shows the group is still struggling to compete with the likes of Next, John Lewis and fashion chains such as Zara.
In the third quarter which covers the key Christmas trading period, like-for-like sales at the general merchandise division which covers clothes, shoes and homewares fell 5.8 per cent.
The firm put the deterioration down to unusually warm weather which deterred people from buying warm clothing, and availability. It said it enjoyed its best ever Christmas in the food division. "I have worked closely with Steve for six years and I am convinced that he will be a great leader for Marks & Spencer," Mr Bolland said.