M&S finance director quits a day after Marc Bolland joins as chief executive

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The Independent Online

The finance director of Marks & Spencer has quit just a day after its new chief executive, Marc Bolland, took the helm. Ian Dyson, who had been a leading internal candidate for the top job that Mr Bolland landed, is leaving to become the chief executive of the debt-laden pub company Punch Taverns.

Mr Bolland, the former chief executive of Morrisons supermarkets, was in the dark about Mr Dyson's impending resignation until it was submitted yesterday, and his departure is a setback at the start of his M&S tenure. Mr Dyson, who joined M&S in 2005 and was also the company's operations director, said yesterday: "Although the timing of an announcement of this sort is never perfect, my background in leisure makes Punch a very exciting opportunity and one I couldn't ignore."

Mr Dyson, who was paid a salary of £675,000 at M&S as well as performance-based bonus payments, is on a six-month contract that could keep him at the retailer till October.

His departure reignited speculation that Richard Pennycook, the finance director at Morrisons, could be in the frame to replace Mr Dyson at M&S, but industry observers thought it was unlikely he would jump ship.

This is because there would be a non-poach agreement between the two companies – which is unspecified but is traditionally for six months – and Mr Pennycook was handed fresh share awards in January to help keep him at Morrisons long term.

At Punch, Mr Dyson will replace Giles Thorley, who announced his departure in March. Mr Dyson's motivation for joining Punch, which has debts of nearly £4bn, was thought to be his desire to become a chief executive.

Sources said: "He is leaving a lot on the table at M&S and his salary and bonus potential will be smaller than at M&S. The most significant part of his remuneration will be a long-term incentive plan and Punch is consulting shareholders on this."

Prior to M&S, Mr Dyson was the finance director at the Rank Group and before then group financial controller of Hilton Group.