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Luc Vandevelde, new executive chairman
"My task is to create shareholder value"
 real 28k

Monday, 24 January, 2000, 14:46 GMT
M&S goes for Belgian boss

Luc Vandevelde and Peter Salsbury Luc Vandevelde (left) joins chief executive Peter Salsbury

Marks & Spencer has appointed Belgian retail boss Luc Vandevelde as its new executive chairman.

The move is the latest effort by the retailer to revive its flagging fortunes.

It has seen its profits and share price plunge in the past two years.

The appointment of a new chairman should help the company bolster its defences against any takeover bids that are being prepared.

Marks & Spencer has been without a full-time chairman since Sir Richard Greenbury left last year.

Promodes mastermind

Currently the head of French supermarket chain Promodes, Mr Vandevelde will join M&S as executive chairman on 28 February.

Promodes has 6,000 stores in 13 countries.

At Promodes, Mr Vandevelde masterminded the merger of the company with rival Carrefour, creating Europe's largest supermarket group.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Vandevelde said that the fundamentals of Marks & Spencer, such as its brand loyalty and product offering, were strong.

"My task is to create shareholder value. That is my one and only objective," Mr Vandevelde said.

"There are no bids on the table at this time," he added.

Mr Vandevelde is to receive a basic salary of 650,000. The salary can double if he reaches annual performance targets. He has 10.4m in share options as well as 2.2m in restricted shares that he cannot touch for three years.

Marks & Spencer troubles

Many pundits say that Marks & Spencer's poor sales have made it vulnerable to takeover.

The company, once the darling of the high street, has already issued two profit warnings.

Earlier this month, Marks & Spencer said that Christmas sales slumped 5.3% in the six weeks to 8 January.

Despite employing well-known designers to revive its brand, it has had little success with the public.

The troubles have been bad news for the thousands of workers at Marks & Spencer's UK suppliers. Many of them have already lost their jobs as the company has switched to overseas manufacturers.

This year there have been an estimated 4,500 job losses at its traditional clothing suppliers in the UK.

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See also:
24 Jan 00 |  Business
Belgian set to shake up M&S
11 Jan 00 |  Business
M&S: A brand new challenge
12 Jan 00 |  Business
M&S sales plummet
11 Jan 00 |  Business
M&S sued by supplier
07 Jan 00 |  Business
UK high street prices fall

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