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M&S Names Holmes New Chief Executive

LONDON — Roger Holmes will succeed Luc Vandevelde as chief executive of Marks & Spencer in the wake of a rapid — and successful — restructuring of the U.K. retailer. <br><br>The move, which was widely expected takes effect Sept. 1....

LONDON — Roger Holmes will succeed Luc Vandevelde as chief executive of Marks & Spencer in the wake of a rapid — and successful — restructuring of the U.K. retailer.

The move, which was widely expected takes effect Sept. 1. Vandevelde will remain chairman.

The news was released at the company’s annual meeting here Wednesday as M&S also reported a 14.8 percent rise in sales of apparel, footwear and gifts for the 14 weeks ended July 6, with comparable-store sales rising 12.7 percent during the period.

This period marked the second consecutive quarter in which M&S increased its market share in apparel. Women’s wear, the company said, was the best performer. Overall sales, including the home and food divisions, rose 9.1 percent, and 7.7 percent on a comp basis. Last year, apparel sales were down 9.1 percent.

With the Sept. 1 transition, Vandevelde will return to his original role as chairman. Beginning in January of next year, however, that will be a part-time position. He will also chair M&S’ financial services operation and act as chairman of its corporate responsibility committee.

Vandevelde, who had held both chairman and ceo positions since 2000, said the time was right to reshape the company’s management structure.

“Roger was one of the main architects of this turnaround, and the time is now right for him to take over as chief executive. In addition, I have always believed in a split role between the chairman and chief executive,” Vandevelde said. “We are a different and more focused business today. We are pursuing a clear strategy, and with this announcement we are putting in place the right leadership structure.”

Hired as chairman, Vandevelde succeeded Peter Salsbury as chief executive about two years ago when the company was stepping up its restructuring efforts. Although Salsbury had initiated the revamping, he was unable to effect substantial improvement in a weak business climate.

Holmes is currently head of the company’s U.K. retail operations. His new team will be made up of a series of “group directors” in charge of main divisions. They include Alison Reed, finance director; Laurel Powers-Freeling, chief executive of Marks & Spencer financial services; David Norgrove, clothing director, and Justin King, food director.

As reported, M&S posted a net profit of $230.1 million in 2001, compared with losses of $6 million the year before. In the fiscal year ended March 30, 2002, total sales rose to $12.2 billion, a 0.7 percent rise over the previous year’s figure.