Vandevelde puts new spring in M&S board

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The Independent Online

Marks & Spencer appointed two non-executive directors yesterday as chairman, Luc Vandevelde sought to inject fresh talent into the ailing company's board. The two are Tony Ball, chief executive of British Sky Broadcasting, and Kevin Lomax, chairman of Misys, the software company. Both appointments take effect from 1 September. They will be paid £34,000 a year, the same rate as the other M&S non-executives.

Marks & Spencer appointed two non-executive directors yesterday as chairman, Luc Vandevelde sought to inject fresh talent into the ailing company's board. The two are Tony Ball, chief executive of British Sky Broadcasting, and Kevin Lomax, chairman of Misys, the software company. Both appointments take effect from 1 September. They will be paid £34,000 a year, the same rate as the other M&S non-executives.

The changes are the first boardroom appointments under Mr Vandevelde and are the only non-executive positions for both men. The appointments are also a clear signal that Mr Vandevelde is trying to add younger managers to the M&S board whilst improving the company's boardroom knowledge of the digital economy.

Mr Ball, 44, is known as a tough manager who is credited with spearheading BSkyB's growth in digital subscriber numbers. Mr Lomax, 51, was a founding investor in Misys in 1979 and has spent the majority of his career in New Economy industries. "Our aim has been to increase the breadth of experience, talent and age on the board," Mr Vandevelde said. "Their success in their respective, fast developing industries will be particularly relevant to our future progress," he added.

Mr Vandevelde hinted in February that he would be seeking changes to M&S's non-executive ranks. Sir Martin Jacomb, former chairman of Prudential, retired from the board at the company's AGM last week. More changes are expected as most of the non-executives are long-standing appointments made during the era of Sir Richard Greenbury, the previous chairman. They include Sir Ralph Robins, Sir Michael Perry, Brian Baldock and Dame Stella Rimington. The appointments were welcomed in the City where M&S is seen as having been slow to adjust to e-commerce opportunities. One analyst questioned whether the two will be on the same wavelength as the rest of the board. "I'm sure they know what they are talking about as far as the New Economy is concerned but will the others understand what they are on about?"

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