Ex-Asda chief Archie Norman to be new M&S chairman
Marks & Spencer has appointed former Asda boss Archie Norman as chairman.
Mr Norman will succeed Robert Swannell, who is retiring after six years in the role, when he takes up the position on September 1.
Best known for turning Asda around in the 1990s, he has also served as chairman of ITV, Lazard and Hobbycraft, as well as stints at Kingfisher and Energis.
Mr Norman joins M&S as chief executive Steve Rowe continues the fight to improve under-pressure sales in its clothing arm, overseeing a wide-ranging overhaul which will see it shut stores and revamp its product ranges and prices.
He said: "I am looking forward to taking on the role of the chairmanship of Marks & Spencer as the business under Steve Rowe's leadership faces into the considerable challenges ahead in a rapidly changing retail landscape."
The announcement comes days after M&S revealed it has poached the chief executive of Halfords and put her in charge of shoring up its embattled clothing arm.
The high street bellwether said on Wednesday that Jill McDonald had been recruited into the new role of managing director for clothing, home and beauty, joining the retailer this autumn.
Mr Norman also served as a Tory MP after being elected to the Tunbridge Wells constituency in 1997, and then went on to become chief executive of the Conservative Party under William Hague.
He stood down as an MP in 2005.
Clive Black, retail analyst at Shore Capital, said: " Mr Norman is a formidable appointment who, alongside Steve Rowe, who is CEO of M&S, means that there are two very strong characters at the helm of a once great British label that is trying to refind its purpose and relevance to the British shopper to profitable effect. "
M&S shares were up 4.5% in morning trading off the back of the news.
Vindi Banga, the senior independent M&S director who led the selection process, said: "Having conducted a very rigorous appointment process, it was clear to us that Archie was the best person to be chairman.
"Archie is one of the most respected business leaders in the UK with extensive experience as both CEO and chair, and a proven record in retail and other areas."