Rose determined to steer 'lean and mean' M&S through crunch

Marks & Spencer boss Sir Stuart Rose has been credited with the revival of the high street giant, but has come under heavy pressure as trading turned sour during a torrid 2008.

But he showed his determination to steer a "lean and mean" M&S through the downturn by slashing costs - involving more than 1,200 possible job losses.

The potential annual saving of up to £200m lowers the chances of a dividend cut - and further riling the investors with which Sir Stuart clashed last year.

Nearly a quarter of shareholders who voted failed to back him last July over his controversial dual role as executive chairman at the helm of M&S.

His role - combining chairman and chief executive - has raised the ire of many investors as it breaches corporate best practice.

Questions were also raised over the hiring and subsequent firing little more than a year later of former Waitrose man Steve Esom, who paid the price for M&S's poor food showing last July.

Meanwhile the group's share price tumbled nearly 60% last year, to little more than half the 400p a share bid from billionaire retailer Sir Philip Green he fought off soon after joining in 2004.

Sir Stuart shrugged off speculation over his future today, saying: "If this was an aeroplane flying through a storm the best thing to do is not to nip up the front and change the pilot."

On taking the helm, he brought in key talent to drive a revival of M&S clothing ranges, with the George Davies-designed Per Una fashion brand hailed as one of its greatest successes.

He commissioned advertising campaigns, featuring the likes of supermodels Twiggy, Erin O'Connor and singer Myleene Klass, which brought M&S back to life on the high street until last year's downturn.

Although the group has just endured its worst quarter since 1999, at least Sir Stuart is not beginning this year with a profits warning - unlike 2008. His efforts to take a grip of the business also impressed some City analysts.

Panmure Gordon's Philip Dorgan said: "This cost reduction gives M&S an enormous war chest to survive the recession."

Keith Bowman, equities analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said 2008 was "an awful year" but added: "I think investors are happy to stay with him for the time being - to some degree the problems affecting retailers are across the board.

"He has got experience and is generally well-respected...and he has underlined his determination to see the business through its current difficulties."

Sir Stuart's own M&S journey started in 1972 when he began his retail career as a management trainee.

The following 17 years saw the son of a civil servant hold a variety of roles in textiles and food, eventually becoming commercial director heading the company's European division in Paris.

Following his "apprenticeship" at M&S he started seven years with the Burton Group in 1989, which later split into Debenhams and the Arcadia group.

He had earlier been a buying and merchandising director at Debenhams and two years later he became a managing director at Dorothy Perkins.

In 1994, he was appointed to the firm's board and became chief executive of Burton Menswear, Evans, Dorothy Perkins and Principles.

He left the Burton Group in late 1997 and in January 1998 he was appointed chief executive of Argos.

In September 1998 he became chief executive of Booker, one of the UK's largest food distributors. In May 2000, Booker announced a merger with Iceland, and Rose was appointed chief executive of the enlarged business.

But it was when he joined Arcadia as chief executive in November 2000 that he cemented his reputation as a major player by turning around the company which was lumbered with more than £250 million debt when he joined.

Sir Stuart presided over the sale of Arcadia to Philip Green for £855 million in 2002, making £25 million out of the deal himself.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

ebooksNow available in paperback
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

Carlton Senior Appointments: Sr Wealth Manager - San Francisco - Inv AdvisoryFirm

$125 - $175 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Senior Wealth Manager – In...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum