After six years in the role, M&S CEO Steve Rowe (pictured) will stand down on 25th May as part of a planned succession programme.

Ex-Wesfarmers and Steinhoff CEO Stuart Machin will become chief executive, and will take on responsibility for day-to-day leadership of the business and the executive committee, with responsibility for HR and corporate communications.

Katie Bickerstaffe will become co-chief executive, with a focus on driving the global omnichannel, digital and data future of the business. She will retain her existing portfolio including responsibility for Clothing & Home, MS2, International and Financial Services.

Eoin Tonge will be appointed chief strategy and finance officer. In addition to his current responsibilities, he will play an enhanced role in leading the future development of the business.

M&S chairman Archie Norman comments: “The appointments we are making bring together a very strong leadership team to take the business into the next stage of its transformation. Both Stuart and Katie are outstanding, high-impact leaders with very strong track records and experience of leading businesses through transformative change. With Eoin, they make a very powerful leadership team able to span the full breadth of our businesses.

"Given the very strong recent progress we have made, keeping up the pace and momentum is critical. We are delighted to have brought together three exceptional individuals who, with the support of the executive committee, will provide vision, energy and pace for this next phase.”

Steve Rowe joined the business from school at the age of 15 and rose through the ranks, culminating in his appojntment as chief executive in 2016. Early in his tenure he outlined a far-reaching transformation programme. M&S has since gone through a period of significant change, and it is now in a very different shape from the business Steve took over. 

Amongst many examples of his input are the agreement to take M&S Food online for the first time through the Ocado Retail joint venture, the doubling of Clothing and Home online penetration, the revival of the Food business, addressing the legacy store estate with the closure of over 60 stores, and rebuilding profitable growth in the international business. 

Steve comments: “It has been an enormous privilege to lead the business I love and have spent almost all my career working for. Leaving will be in many ways very difficult for me but I feel that after six hard years it is the right time to pass on the baton."

Archie adds: “Steve has been a magnificent servant of M&S, putting his heart and soul into the job. Coming from the shop floor to lead the business, he epitomises our values and has lived and breathed M&S for so many years. He is living proof of the opportunities M&S provides for great people to succeed. The M&S he took over was in parlous shape, and throughout my tenure he has been fearless in grasping the nettles and facing into the challenges and has delivered massive progress. As we move into the next growth phase, he leaves a very strong team to take the business forward. But as someone who has touched so many colleagues across the business over the years, he will be much missed and goes with our huge affection and best wishes.”

Steve Rowe will stand down from the board after M&S' preliminary results are announced on 25th May, and will cease full-time employment with the business at the AGM on 5th July. He has agreed to remain as an adviser to the new leadership team for up to 12 months.