Non-food chief quits unexpectedly at Marks & Spencer


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The Independent Online

Marks & Spencer is in turmoil as the highly respected chief of its struggling non-food division unexpectedly quit.

John Dixon had been tipped for the top job when the current chief executive Marc Bolland decides to stand down, but has said he was leaving to take up a chief executive role elsewhere.

He has been with the company since 1986, working his way up from the shop floor  to head office where he started as a deli food buyer. During his time at M&S he has also been the personal assistant to the former chief executive Sir Stuart Rose and the head of its food division, before switching to general merchandise  in 2012.

It is thought that Mr Dixon had become frustrated in recent months by the promotion of boardroom rival Laura Wade-Gery, who was made head of UK retail, seemingly leap-frogging Mr Dixon. Meanwhile, the former Debenhams chief executive Belinda Earl was brought in by M&S in 2012 as fashion director, and then last year the supply-chain experts, the Lindsey brothers, were hired to improve margins at in the clothes division as Mr Bolland pushed for higher profits above higher sales.

M&S last night named Steve Rowe, currently the head of its food business, as  the new head of general merchandise. Mr Rowe has recently been reported to be favoured ahead of Mr Dixon in the race to replace Mr Bolland.

As head of food, Mr Dixon was behind the rise of so-called food porn at M&S with an impressive advertising campaign.