Marks & Spencer has confirmed Robert Swannell as its next chairman, bringing to a close months of speculation and the more than six year tenure of Sir Stuart Rose.
Mr Swannell, the current chairman of entertainment retailer HMV, will join M&S as a non-executive director on 4 October. After a handover period he will take the reins as chairman on 4 January, when Sir Stuart will depart. Sir Stuart actually hired Mr Swannell, who was then at the investment bank Citigroup, to help fend off the hostile £9.4bn takeover bid by the retail tycoon Sir Philip Green in 2004.
As non-executive chairman, Mr Swannell will receive a basic salary of £450,000, as well as a car and driver. He has more than 30 years experience in investment banking and will work up to three days a week at M&S.
His salary represents a 49 per cent reduction on the £875,000 that M&S pays Sir Stuart, who is the best-paid chairman in the FTSE 100. The salary of Sir Stuart – who has at times had a rocky relationship with the City, particularly over the dual role he took in 2008 – was a source of controversy among certain investors.
Mr Swannell said: "It is a privilege to chair one of the world's greatest brands." It emerged yesterday that he will give up his non-executive roles at the property company British Land and the private equity firm 3i. The appointment of Mr Swannell is the final piece in the top team jigsaw for Marc Bolland, who took the helm at M&S in May after leaving the grocer Morrisons.
This month M&S also hired Alan Stewart, a former WH Smith executive, as finance director. Mr Bolland said: "Robert will be an excellent chairman for us. He has strong complementary skills and I am very much looking forward to working with him."
Mr Bolland, who could earn up to £14.8m in his first year, including compensation for rewards at Morrisons, will unveil his vision for M&S at its interim results in November.