In 1972 a young lad from Yorkshire who went to a Quaker boarding school joined the Marks & Spencer management training scheme. Stuart Rose stayed for 17 years and had risen to head of M&S’s European division in Paris when he moved on to build a reputation as a shrewd operator who could tur around struggling retail companies.
In 2004 Rose was called back to M&S, this time as Chief Executive; a £9 billion takeover bid on the table for the once mighty king of the High Street which had lost its way with falling sales, a diminishing share price and vanishing customer appeal
The rest is already history. The takeover was thwarted, stores were revamped, fashion modernized, and marketing was given a fresh zest with window displays and advertising campaigns designed to lure younger customers. More importantly Rose brought back M&S’s old values of quality and service.
In the near future Rose will be reporting increased sales and profits to happy-again shareholders and he will also be saying ‘thank you’ with a £65 million bonus to the 63,000 M&S staff who have made it all work.
Now we know what ‘a shrewd operator’ really means.
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