Rose: Succession could have been handled better

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The Independent Online

Sir Stuart Rose admitted that the announcement that he was taking over as chief executive and chairman of M&S next month could have been handled better.

"The company was facing a particular set of circumstances and it decided it had to do something about – and it made an unanimous decision to do what it thought was the right thing to do," he said yesterday. In March, M&S revealed that its chairman, Lord Burns, who also chairs Abbey National, would step down from 1 June and that Sir Stuart would step up to become executive chairman until he leaves the retailer in 2011.

"The first thing is that M&S absolutely and fully recognises the need to have proper corporate governance. And we have a very strong history of corporate governance in our business. We have tried to explain it and there have been debates about how we communicated it and, sure, in retrospect we could have done things in a more timely basis."

In April, M&S sent out a letter to shareholders to explain its decision further, but many felt it still left questions unanswered about why it was necessary to give Sir Stuart the dual role.

Lord Burns said: "We obviously knew there would be some push back on this from those people who have a particular interest in corporate governance. We had some issues about communication. And there are some suggestion that our opening explanation of this could have been followed a bit faster. But certainly from my point of view, and I am sure from the point of the non-executive and directors, they completely agree that this was the right thing for the business."

He added: "The board was unanimous in the view."

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