M&S chairman Robert Swannell will step down in 2017

M&S chairman Robert Swannell will step down in 2017

Robert Swannell, the chairman of Marks & Spencer, is to step down after six years at the helm of the UK retail group.

Swannell has told the retailer he intends to retire in 2017, and senior independent director Vindi Banga is now tasked with leading the process to identify and appoint the next M&S chairman. Swannell will continue in his role until a replacement is found.

"A year ago we chose Steve Rowe as our chief executive," he said. "Steve completed a thorough analysis of the business and developed a detailed plan to build a simpler and more relevant M&S. 
 
"This plan is now underway and I feel it is the right time for the business to look for a new chairman. It is a real privilege to chair this iconic company and I will continue to do so until my successor is in place."

Last month, M&S announced its biggest shake-up in years, with plans to remove its clothing ranges from 60 stores over the next five years and axe underperforming brands, as first-half pre-tax profit tumbled 88%.

Rowe, who took over as chief executive in April, said the aim is to improve the quality and productivity of M&S's clothing and home space by trading from "fewer, better locations", in five years' time.

M&S to cut clothing from 60 stores and axe brands