M&S reshapes its leadership for the second phase of its digital-led transformation

M&S has reduced its store space while focusing on digital sales. Image courtesy of M&S

M&S has reduced its store space while focusing on digital sales. Image courtesy of M&S

Marks and Spencer is reshaping its leadership for the next phase of its digital-led transformation project following the news that chief executive Steve Rowe is to step down after six years.

The retailer is moving into the second phase of its ‘shaping the future’ transformation programme that will be led by Stuart Machin, as chief executive responsible for leading the business and focusing in particular on the food business, operations and store development. Katie Bickerstaffe will be co-chief executive with responsibility for global omnichannel, digital and data, and will also retain responsibility for clothing, home and international. Eoin Tonge will be chief strategy and finance officer, with responsibility for its sustainability Plan A programme. The new team will start work at Rowe’s departure, following the company’s full-year results on May 25.

The next phase of transformation

During his tenure, which started in 2016, Rowe set out to move a third of clothing and home sales online while reducing store space through closures and space reductions. Since then, more than 60 shops have closed while the proportion of clothing and homewares sales that take place online has doubled and the retailer now sells its food online through its Ocado Retail joint venture. The retailer’s international business has also been reshaped as a digital-led ecommerce business that a year ago expanded to more than 100 markets, after reporting a 75% rise in international ecommerce sales during the pandemic.

M&S says the new leaders will provide the “stability, pace and bandwidth” for further, faster change in the second phase of the programme. They will continue to be advised by Rowe for up to 12 months.

M&S chairman Archie Norman says: “Given the very strong recent progress we have made, keeping up the pace and momentum is critical. We are delighted to have brought together three exceptional individuals who, with the support of the executive committee, will provide vision, energy and pace for this next phase.”

Rowe says: “I am enormously grateful for the support I have had in driving through the extraordinary transformation programme of the last few years from shareholders, the board but most of all the many thousands of colleagues in the business.

“A piece of my heart will always remain with the M&S family, and I feel that we have done many of the hard yards to restore the business to what it should be. I’m proud that I am leaving a very strong team who will lead it into the next growth phase. I wish them every success.”

Read more about how M&S has reshaped its customer experience across channels here in the RetailX UK Top500 2022 report here.

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