Outlook: Sir Richard Greenbury gets his Oates

SO, SIR Richard Greenbury got his way after all - sort of. The upstart pretender, Keith Oates, has been dispatched into exile, presumably with the by now customary barrow load of money, and the anointed successor, Peter Salsbury, confirmed in the role of chief executive.

Sir Richard has had to throw something to the mob, so it's been the executive bit of his continued role as chairman. Given his character, Sir Rick can none the less be expected to act very much as an executive non-executive for his remaining eighteen months.

The battle for the succession has been a messy affair - most un-Marks & Spencer-like - but perhaps too much has been read into it. A severe downturn in trading, combined with the launch of an overly ambitious expansion programme, gave Mr Oates the opportunity he needed to challenge Sir Rick's previously uncontested rule.

Marks & Spencer has lost its way, and Sir Rick his touch, Mr Oates was able to whisper, and he found a receptive ear among some non executives and City investors. But in truth the case was so far from being made that Mr Oates never really stood a chance. He played his hand and who can blame him, but Sir Rick was always going to have his way.

The turnround in perceptions about M&S has been a swift and to some extent unjustified one. It was little more than a year ago that on the back of bumper sales and profits the group launched an extraordinarily ambitious expansion programme - to grow the business by a third in just four years. This was always going to need a change of structure at the top, including a splitting of the role of chairman and chief executive.

But even with the downturn and the consequent reigning back of the store expansion programme, it was never apparent that M&S needed root and branch reform. To be forced to go outside for a chief executive would indeed have been an admission of failure.

That said, M&S as much as any company would benefit from a fresh perspective, and when Sir Rick comes finally to hang up his gun, his successor as non- executive chairman probably should come from outside the company.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst with experienc...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Sales Team Leader - Wakefield, West Yorkshire

£21000 - £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged b...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders