Steve Rowe is a confident man. At a press preview of the spring 16 range in November, he told the room he had turned around the food business and would do the same for general merchandise. And if he can, he will go to the top of his boss Marc Bolland’s (number 32) 2016 Christmas card list.
Rowe joined M&S in 1989 and worked his way up, becoming executive director of food in 2012. Under his leadership, the food department achieved strong growth. He took over as executive director of general merchandise in July after his predecessor, John Dixon, accepted the chief executive job at Australian retailer David Jones.
Meanwhile, M&S’s general merchandise sales – which are mostly from fashion – have been in almost constant decline for years. For the 26 weeks to September 26, they were down 1.2% on a like-for-like basis. Rowe may be confident, but he has his work cut out for him. It will be interesting to see where he sits on next year’s Top 100 and if he manages to change M&S’s fashion fortunes.