Why `Mr Grumpy' feels the pressure
Wednesday 04 November 1998
During his presentation of half-yearly figures for the company, Sir Richard joked that he had taken some Valium to keep himself calm. Even so, there was plenty of colourful language to accentuate the gloom of falling profits and consumer recession. Observers could only imagine what he might have said if he had allowed himself to get excited.
On past form he would have hit back hard at any detractors of either himself or his beloved M&S - the company he has served faithfully from joining as a 16-year-old management trainee and which, now 62, he has run for the past decade. Speculation in the City, however, has recently centred on whether or not he is the right man to continue at the helm. He maintains that he will remain in place until retirement at 65 in 2001.
One theory is that a plan for him to go sooner was shelved when it became clear that the company was sailing into stormy waters. On this view he has been left there to tough it out through the bad times, rather than pitching a new boy into the swell, but be ready to step aside when the prospects brighten.
Only last month, however, the company announced a freeze on all new projects, just a year after Sir Richard unveiled plans for pounds 2.2bn worth of new investment.
While no-one is suggesting that he should have foreseen the global downturn so far in advance - precious few other people did - this has served to knock the image of invincibility that Sir Richard was so keen to promote.
But for a man who it is said, "eats, sleeps and drinks M&S" it is certain that he will not go quietly.
- 1 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 2 Tower Bridge glass walkway 'smashed' by night-time visitor dropping bottle of beer
- 3 Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...
£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...