So just who is Marc Bolland, the new chief executive of Marks & Spencer?
He may not be a known name in the fashion industry but he is hugely respected in the fast moving consumer goods sector and, more recently, retail. His spectacular turnaround of supermarket chain Morrisons in just three years has been one of the greatest achievements in recent retail history.
He took the old-fashioned, on-its-knees grocer and reinvented it, embracing its heritage and carving it a niche. He more than doubled its profits, and while Morrisons remains the smallest of the big four supermarkets, its growth has been phenomenal.
This may have been a surprise appointment at Marks & Spencer but it is one that should be welcomed by our industry. He may have no fashion experience to speak of but we should not forget that Marks & Spencer’s product team is led by and will continue to be run by the hugely experienced general merchandise director Kate Bostock – undoubtedly the best womenswear buying talent in the country.
What Bolland brings is a great understanding of brand and an absolute passion for understanding the customer, which is just what Marks & Spencer needs. At Morrisons he also recognised the role a unique supply chain can play in shaping a business – he has invested in farms and collaborated with fresh food suppliers to come up with a distinctive proposition. Marks & Spencer’s suppliers should take heart that he has a history of a collaborative approach.
While Bolland is undoubtedly a shrewd operator, the fashion sector is lucky to have a talent such as this in its midst.