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The BBC's Louise Greenwood
"Evidence is growing that he's failed to bring a turnaround in the fortunes of Marks and Spencer"
 real 56k

Monday, 18 September, 2000, 06:52 GMT 07:52 UK
M&S boss stands down
Luc Vandevelde and Peter Salsbury
Luc Vandevelde (left) replaces Peter Salsbury
Marks & Spencer chief executive Peter Salsbury has confirmed his resignation after the retail giant's profits halved during his two years in the post.

He is being replaced by current chairman Luc Vandevelde.

The expected change was confirmed as M&S reported clothing sales down 1.4% in the past six months.

Roger Holmes, who M&S have just poached from Kingfisher, has been confirmed as managing director of UK retailing.

Clara Freeman, UK stores and personnel director, and Guy McCracken, international retail director, have also resigned.

New broom

Retail analysts had suspected that Mr Holmes was being lined up to replace Mr Salsbury, who had worked at M&S for 29 years.

Mr Vandevelde, a Belgian national, was brought in on a two-year contract in January, with a 2.2m golden handshake, to turn around the performance of the high street giant.

He was formerly chief executive at Promodes, where he oversaw average annual earnings growth of 25% per year, and drove a merger with Carrefour to create the world's second-largest retailer.

He said at the time of his appointment he was impressed by Mr Salsbury's "appetite for change and determination to succeed".

Reorganisation

M&S is in the midst of introducing a raft of measures, including an image makeover, to halt its decline.

That new look is being rolled out in phases across the UK, and will give all 297 stores a "brighter look" by the autumn, with new staff uniforms and the trademark green carrier bags being scrapped.

Earlier this month, two new directors, Tony Ball, chief executive of British Sky Broadcasting Group, and Kevin Lomax, chairman of IT giant Misys, took their places on the board.

M&S said its UK retail sales rose 0.8% in the 24 weeks to 16 September but were down 1.2% on a like-for-like basis.

It said general sales had dropped about 1.2%, or 21m, as a result of the fuel crisis in the UK.

Pre-tax profits have slumped from 1bn two years ago to just over 500m in March.

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See also:

15 Sep 00 | Business
M&S boss 'set' to go
27 Aug 00 | Business
M&S disputes sales slump
11 Aug 00 | Business
M&S shares: 10-year low
19 Jul 00 | Business
M&S: We'll be good again
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