Outlook: Now even Greenbury is subdued
Wednesday 04 November 1998
But there was no mistaking that instead of the "wounded rhino" that usually stalks the podium, we were given a glimpse of a different, statesmanlike Sir Richard. He even gave a higher profile to his fellow directors, who were allowed to answer more questions than usual.
Not that the leadership issue was advanced at all yesterday. What we got was a repeat of May's announcement that a review is under way but that no announcement is imminent. The main contenders, Peter Salsbury and Keith Oates, both looked comfortable enough, but they may have to wait a while yet before they get their hands on the prize.
Much of what has gone wrong at M&S is not Sir Richard's fault. It is unfortunate that he pressed the button on the company's biggest-ever expansion programme just as most of his major markets started heading south. And few faulted the logic of buying 19 stores from Littlewoods when the deal was done.
But there have been some buying mistakes and there is a growing feeling that M&S has become a bit too centralised, a bit too bureaucratic for its own good. Perhaps it is time for some gradual adjustments. What the City would like to see (sooner rather than later) is an announcement that Sir Richard will separate his chairman and chief executive roles. It is hard to see Sir Richard as a non-executive chairman, but a reasonable compromise might be for him to retain the executive chairmanship, with one of his managing directors elevated to the chief executive's position.
In the meantime the shares may weaken further as the bad news sinks in. But M&S remains Britain's biggest retailer, with a peerless portfolio of freehold sites and the best retail brand name in the country. If the shares dip much more it will certainly start to be seen as a buying opportunity.
- 1 Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
Kim Jong-un shows off airport designed by architect he likely had executed
Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
Ex-Scientologist Carmen Llwyelyn blasts 'cult' and her treatment after divorce with Jason Lee
Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
David Cameron struck double blow in his hopes to win Britain a new EU deal
Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...
£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This extremely successful and well-established...
Competitive with monthly bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced FX...