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Drapers Top 100 2016 – 28. Steve Rowe, chief executive, Marks & Spencer

Steve rowe 01

Steve rowe 01

Steve Rowe made his debut in the Top 100 last year after he took over responsibility for general merchandise at Marks & Spencer, and has rocketed up the ranks thanks to his promotion in April to chief executive.

But despite M&S’s considerable size and reputation, Rowe does not make it into the top 20. His first eight months in charge have been challenging: while M&S food is still coveted, its clothing sales have been falling for years – and Rowe has been under intense pressure to come up with a sensible turnaround plan.

Since April, he has announced 500 head office job cuts and plans to streamline the retailer’s UK and international store portfolio. Under his watchful eye, the business is also reviewing its pricing, improving availability of certain styles in regional stores and cutting some of its unnecessary fashion brands, all of which is welcome.

The “Mrs M&S” faux pas aside, Rowe certainly seems to be listening to his customers. But it remains to be seen if he can stem the falling fashion sales.

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