Marks & Spencer Group Plc’s new chief executive officer, Steve Rowe, will continue to manage the UK retailer’s general-merchandise division as he seeks to arrest a four-year decline in clothing sales.
Rowe’s first major decision since taking over as CEO this month will see him maintain oversight of the department that he has run since July. The 27-year company veteran will "continue to lead the team for the foreseeable future. He sees general merchandise as the number-one priority for M&S, and is personally committed to getting it right," an M&S spokeswoman said by email.
Despite being the UK market leader, M&S’s clothing business is stuck in a rut compared with rivals like Next Plc and Primark, which have done a better job of capturing younger consumers. The sales slump dogged the five-year tenure of former boss Marc Bolland, and to help turn things around, Rowe hired British fashionista Alexa Chung to create a new collection while bringing the company’s womenswear, lingerie and beauty teams together into one group.
"He was only given the job as head of general merchandise a short time ago, and obviously doesn’t think there is anybody else who can take it on at the moment," Maureen Hinton, director at retail research firm Conlumino, said by phone.
M&S, which gets about 40 per cent of its revenue from the general-merchandise unit, is expected by analysts to report a further drop in same-store clothing sales when it releases fourth-quarter results on 7 April.
The stock rose 0.7 per cent to 410.2 pence at 2.44 pm in London.
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