Blog: This is no ordinary AGM...

Joe Ayling | 9 July 2009

Marks and Spencer boss Sir Stuart Rose has once again been in the firing line this week for his combined chief executive and executive chairman roles.

But judging from yesterday's jovial AGM in London, he could perhaps add The Court Jester act to his responsibilities there too.

Taking centre stage at the Royal Festival Hall, Sir Stuart's comic timing and witty replies to some rather odd shareholder questions kept everyone entertained.

He began with props - wheeling out a clothing rail of top selling garments, including the famous 'We Boobed' lingerie set. Sir Stuart held the range up but promised he wasn't going to try it on.

"It took a little bit of humbleness [the 'We Boobed' ad] but it paid off because it's one of the reasons our market share has grown," Rose says.

But Sir Stuart really came into his own during question time.

Fielding a comment about the Ashes from a cricket fan for instance, Sir Stuart joked that his prompt was, in fact, a TV screen showing the cricket - "It's 130 for three and I'm watching it on this screen from Cardiff".

He found equally sharp replies for disgruntled M&S shoppers unhappy with store signage, the availability of thermal underwear in November and whether its Classic range was too old looking, even for 82-year-olds.

"Looking through the men's shorts department I thought I was in Primark," one ex-Navy shareholder stood up and said. "If I'd worn them on a cruise ship most people would've jumped over the side."

Sir Stuart laughed it all off, at least until the serious part of the meeting arrived - a resolution to oust him as chairman before the agreed July 2011 date. However, the motion only got half the backing it needed and smiles returned to faces.

"England are 189 for three," he updated the crowd before leaving.

By Joe Ayling, news editor.



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