Smooth operator gets another chance to square up to Green

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The Independent Online

Investors are being asked whether they want to take the rough or the smooth, the hard-talking showmanship of Philip Green or the well-groomed and courteous manner of Stuart Rose.

Investors are being asked whether they want to take the rough or the smooth, the hard-talking showmanship of Philip Green or the well-groomed and courteous manner of Stuart Rose.

One of Britain's most experienced retail executives, Mr Rose had been openly lobbying for weeks for the chairman's job as Marks & Spencer. That he has now got the chief executive post would please many who felt he was much better suited to that position. His return to a big retailing job is all the more dramatic now that it will see him square up once more to Philip Green.

Although Mr Rose, 55, has held a couple of non-executive positions since selling Arcadia to Mr Green at the end of 2002, he has had time to indulge his passions for fine wine and flying. While he has amassed a personal fortune in his career in retail, he has insisted that money is not his "primary driver". His reputation is as important. Mr Rose said he needed to find a new post, despite having walked away from the Top Shop-to-Dorothy Perkins retailer with £26m.

Mr Rose was not allowed to complete the task he set himself to turn around Arcadia when he took the chief executive job two years previously. He said when he departed: "I'm a little sad. I said I'd stay here for five years but we have to do the right thing for shareholders."

He will need quickly to demonstrate not just his determination to turn round Marks & Spencer's fortunes, but his strategy for doing so. In recent years, his record as a day-to-day manager has been eclipsed by his reputation for securing a great deal for exiting shareholders ­ and for himself.

Mr Rose collected £600,000 from Arcadia in 1997 when he finished his first stint at the group. He then joined Argos to head up the defence against an ultimately successful bid from GUS, pocketing £540,000 for just three months' work. Then came the Booker job; he received £2m when the cash-and-carry chain merged with Iceland. Mr Rose earned more than £1m a month in his 22 months as the chief executive of Arcadia.

According to Mr Rose, he created £1.6bn of shareholder value at Argos, Booker and Arcadia. Although many analysts said Mr Rose deserved his second Arcadia payout, some suggested he should have held out until the recovery at Arcadia was complete ­ the deal allowed Mr Green to finish the job and take much of the upside.

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