Former investment banker, who took on role six years ago, will remain in post until his successor is found
Robert Swannell has overseen a tricky period during his time as chair of M&S. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
The chairman of Marks & Spencer is to retire next year after six years in the role.
Robert Swannell, a former investment banker, has overseen a tricky time at the high street stalwart, appointing long-term staffer Steve Rowe to take over as chief executive a year ago from former boss Marc Bolland.
Swannell, 66, who was previously an adviser to M&S helping to fend off a bid attempt by the Topshop boss, Sir Philip Green, during his 30 years in banking at Schroders and Citigroup, joined the company’s board as a non-executive in late 2010. He became chairman a few months later, taking over from Sir Stuart Rose.
His departure is another step in the changing of the guard since Bolland stepped down in the spring.
Rowe has since pulled back on some of Bolland’s key initiatives, including international expansion.
Swannell said: “A year ago we chose Steve Rowe as our chief executive. Steve completed a thorough analysis of the business and developed a detailed plan to build a simpler and more relevant M&S.
“This plan is now under way and I feel that it is the right time for the business to look for a new chairman. It is a real privilege to chair this iconic company and I will continue to do so until my successor is in place.”
M&S’s senior independent director, Vindi Banga, will now lead the process to identify and appoint the next M&S chairman.