UK: Marks & Spencer Leadership Rumours Gather Force
Roger Holmes, head of Kingfisher's electricals division and former chief of Comet, is rumoured to be joining M&S as chief executive of UK retailing, the implication being that he is to take over from current CEO, Peter Salsbury. The rumours, which started in the Financial Times this morning, have not been confirmed by Marks & Spencer. "It is unconfirmed speculation and we have no comment to make at this stage," said a Marks & Spencer spokesman. However, the source would not deny the story either.Reports of Peter Salsbury's departure from the troubled retailer have been growing over the past few months, but analysts feel that he is unlikely to last much longer, despite Luc Vandevelde's professed loyalty for his CEO."The axe has been looming over Salbury's head for some time," said Bryan Roberts of Retail Intelligence. "The only question is whether he resigns or whether he waits until he is pushed."This theory gains credibility from reports that Allan Leighton, former head of Wal-Mart's European arm, had been approached with view to taking on the chief's post. Both Leighton and M&S have been at pains to point out that he is not prepared to take the position.Mr Holmes's lack of clothes retailing experience will cause raised eyebrows in the City, although he is well regarded at Kingfisher. "Roger Holmes has good retail experience, but in completely the wrong product area. I am confused by his appointment and don't see how he can turn M&S' fortunes around," Roberts commented.Many pundits say that Marks & Spencer's poor sales have made it vulnerable to takeover. Some are even speculating that Bhs, which today announced the appointment of Terry Green as its new chief, could be used as a vehicle for acquiring M&S. "There is no doubt that Philip Green would love to get his hands on M&S and, if the new CEO gets Bhs on its feet, it could become the way for Philip Green to achieve just that," said Retail Intelligence's Bryan Roberts.
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