Sir Victor Blank, the ex-Lloyds chairman, has emerged as a candidate to be chairman of Marks & Spencer when Sir Stuart Rose steps down.
M&S's headhunter, Jan Hall of JHA, is drawing up a list of potential chairmen for the board, headed by its new chief executive, Mark Bolland, to consider over the next few weeks. Sir Stuart has said he will leave by next summer, but is believed to want to depart earlier if a successor can be found.
Sources say Sir Victor is a strong candidate because of his retailing background having been the chairman of GUS, the giant mail order business and the mastermind of the spin-out of the Burberry brand under Rose Marie Bravo and then Angela Ahrendts. He was part of the original team which bought-out Woolworths and a director of Home Retail.
But he was forced to resign as Lloyds chairman last year following investor outrage over the bank's decision to rescue HBOS during the financial crash, a move which was encouraged by the then prime minister, Gordon Brown. Sir Victor always maintained that the £12bn deal, which saw dividends at Lloyds wiped out and the share price crash, would work out for shareholders in the long-term.
One source said: "Sir Victor was sacrificed by UKFI – the body that owns the taxpayers' stake in the bank – to appease investor and public opinion. He has as an excellent reputation as a chairman and a solid retail experience – something M&S needs right now with Sir Stuart going and the recent departure of Ian Dyson, the finance director." Sir Victor declined to comment.
Others who are said to covet the job include Roger Carr, the ex-Cadbury chairman who sold out to Kraft, Niall FitzGerald, the former Unilever chairman and Reed's Crispin Davies.