CASE STUDYMarks and Spencer plc: where next for the icon of British retailing?Phyl Johnson and Nardine CollierIn 2010, Marks and Spencer plc was the largest clothing retailer in the UK, it had 885 stores in 40 territories, 600 inthe UK and boasted that one in three British women were wearing one of their Marks & Spencer bras. But still the ana-lysts worried about the sustainability of the giant of UK retailing’s recovery. In 2010 the new CEO took over and wasfaced with issues associated with reassessing the competitive strategy and the continuing challenges of strategic change.a71 a71 a71retained something of the wounded giant about it. Thecompany’s reputation had suffered great injury when, in1998, it was the first British retailer to make profits of £1billion and yet within the year it was issuing profit warn-ings. This was a catastrophic and self-inflicted crash fromits premier position. The company limped through a periodof turbulent change punctuated by aggressive takeoverbids but then, with Sir Stuart’s appointment as CEO in2004, finally saw its results regain health and return to the£1 billion profit level.In July 2009, Sir Stuart Rose, the man who saved Marksand Spencer plc, announced his intention to stand down asCEO in 2010. This triggered speculation and debate as tojust what he had done as CEO; what he had done well, inwhat he had failed and what legacy he was leaving his In 2009, late into their 125th year of trading, the board of Marks and Spencer plc ended their search for a new CEO. The search had attracted a significant amount of mediainterest with many high profile names being suggested aspotential external candidates as well as attention focusedon at least two senior internal directors as the ultimate successor to Sir Stuart Rose: the man who turned aroundMarks and Spencer plc from near failure in the 1990s.The board chose 50-year-old Dutchman Marc Bolland,previously the CEO of UK supermarket chain Morrisons. His appointment, announced on 18 November 2009, wasgreeted with a positive response from the media and share-holders alike.Bolland, the successor to Sir Stuart, had ahead of him asignificant challenge, to secure the future of the UK’s largestretailer and the most famous name in the shopping malls.Marks and Spencer plc had long been the leading retailer inthe UK, the organisation to which all commentators andanalysts turn to when reporting whether the high street ishaving a good or bad season of sales and an organisationthat was historically known and loved by the British people. But at the end of 2009 and early into 2010 com-mentators remained restless, investors nervous and therewere several question marks about the future of this firmthat needed to be resolved.In 2009, despite delivering reasonable results throughthe 2008/09 recession period and in the previous year having topped the £1 billion1marker in pre-tax profits forthe first time in a decade, Marks and Spencer plc still1£1 billion ≈x1.1 billion or $1.5 billion as at 1 June 2010.