As a result, finance director Ian Dyson has been given more responsibility
and put in charge of retail as group finance and operations director.
Now, there’s been a lot of complaint about this decision, especially about
Rose’s appointment, and from some investors in particular.
But you can see why it has happened. Marks & Spencer doesn’t have a great
history with succession planning, and this decision, as Lord Burns made clear,
is about succession.
I have no inside knowledge on this, but I can imagine Lord Burns and Rose
wanting the path to the chief executive’s chair nicely smoothed out for Dyson
well in advance.
Rose himself had to lobby hard for the CEO’s job and, as Robert Peston points
out in his book Who Runs Britain, at the time of doing so he made a point of
telling directors he didn’t want to be a part-time or non-executive chairman.
And all this as Philip Green launched his bid for M&S. Rose, by the way,
was ostensibly hired to help fight off the Green bid.
So it was a tough time and not the ideal way to sort out the leadership while
maintaining the confidence of the investors. Odd then that Rose should chose to
retain executive power over keeping all the investors entirely happy.
But here’s the thing. Rose is big on loyalty and backs people he trusts.
Putting Dyson in charge of retail is certainly backing him. And what’s bigger at
M&S than retail?
But clearly there’s a little nervousness. Dyson is untried in such a big job.
So, Rose retains executive power while Dyson proves himself. Neat solution, but
not exactly corporate governance perfection.
Gavin Hinks is editor of Accountancy Age
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