Steve Rowe to stand down as CEO of M&S

After six years in role, Steve Rowe will stand down as Chief Executive Officer of M&S at the company’s preliminary results on 25 May as part of a planned succession programme.

Rowe joined the business from school at the age of 15 and rose through the ranks serving in multiple leadership roles to take over as Chief Executive at a difficult time in 2016.

Early in his tenure he outlined a far-reaching transformation programme starting with a hard-hitting presentation about the challenges facing M&S and the need to ‘face the facts’.

Since that time, M&S has gone through a remarkable period of change, and it is now in very different shape from the business he took over.

Amongst many examples are the agreement to take M&S Food online for the first time through the Ocado Retail joint venture, the doubling of Clothing and Home online penetration, the revival of the Food business, addressing the legacy store estate with the closure of over 60 stores and rebuilding profitable growth in the International business.

Latterly Rowe has guided the business through the pandemic and ensured it came through the crisis stronger.

During his tenure, Rowe oversaw far reaching changes in organisation structure and management. As a result, he will leave a very strong leadership team and a faster, more digital, commercial business that’s closer to the customer and front line.

Rowe commented, “It has been an enormous privilege to lead the business I love and have spent almost all my career working for. Leaving will be in many ways very difficult for me but I feel that after six hard years it is the right time to pass on the baton.

'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.”

Chairman Archie Norman commented, “Steve has been a magnificent servant of M&S, putting his heart and soul into the job. Coming from the shop floor to lead the business, he epitomises our values and has lived and breathed M&S for so many years. He is living proof of the opportunities M&S provides for great people to succeed.

'The M&S he took over was in parlous shape and throughout my tenure he has been fearless in grasping the nettles and facing into the challenges and has delivered massive progress.

'As we move into the next growth phase, he leaves a very strong team to take the business forward. But as someone who has touched so many colleagues across the business over the years, he will be much missed and goes with our huge affection and best wishes.”

Rowe will stand down from the Board after preliminary results on 25 May and cease full time employment with the business at the AGM on 5 July. In view of his wisdom and formidable knowledge of the business he has agreed to remain as an adviser to the new leadership for up to 12 months.