The Business On... Robert Swannell, Chairman, Marks & Spencer


A case of 'the king is dead, long live the king'?

Sort of. Mr Swannell's first day as chairman of Marks & Spenceryesterday marked the end of Sir Stuart Rose's period at the company. Having stepped down as chiefexecutive a year ago, Sir Stuart is now leaving Britain's best-known retailer altogether.



He'll be a tough act to follow

Indeed, though Mr Swannell is unlikely to try to follow his predecessor's penchant for flamboyance and frankness. He's a different kettle of fish altogether, having spent 33 years working for blue-blooded investment banks.



He doesn't sound like a natural M&S customer?

Maybe not, but he does know the retailer well, having worked closely with Sir Stuart in 2004 to see off the unwanted attentions of Sir Philip Green, who wanted to but M&S. He's been the retailer's investment banker ever since.



But does he have the common touch?

He doesn't need it – he's going to be chairman, not lead designer of the spring collection. What he brings is City experience and respect – he's a veteran of some of the biggestcorporate deals of the past two decades, from the sales of Pilkington and P&O to Roman Abramovich's purchase of Chelsea.



Is M&S likely to be at the centre of any M&A itself?

It's unlikely, but never say never – the company has been linked with a bid for online grocer Ocado, for example. Either way Mr Swannell is a safe pair of hands.



No rebellious streaks at all?

Well, he's also chairman of HMV, the music retailer, and when it appointed him to the post two years ago, itsuggested Mr Swannell was a big fan of Bob Dylan.



The times they are a-changing?

In some ways, yes. But there is no denying that Mr Swannell is about as establishment as they come. He even chairs the governing body of Rugby School, his alma mater.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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 People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'