Marks & Spencer names Archie Norman as new chairman

REUTERS  Paul Hackett

REUTERS Paul Hackett

LONDON, May 5 (Reuters) - Marks & Spencer named Archie Norman as its new chairman on Friday, with the 63-year-old retail veteran's appointment lifting the clothing and food retailer's shares.

Mr Norman will succeed Robert Swannell, who is retiring after six years in the role, when he takes up the position on September 1.

Last month, M&S announced plans to open 34 new Food stores and two Clothing, Home and Food stores in the next six months as part of its five-year programme to improve its United Kingdom store estate.

M&S is led by chief executive Steve Rowe, who took over from former boss Marc Bolland last April.

When Norman joined Asda as CEO in 1991, the supermarket was on its knees, but he transformed the business, introducing the "George" range of clothing, before, as chairman, selling it to Wal-Mart in 1999.

Swannell said: "I am delighted that Archie, with his deep, relevant experience is to be M&S's next chairman".

M&S shares rose more than 2 per cent in morning trading to 364.80p.

But he ruffled Tory feathers and in 2005 returned to business full-time.

Mr Norman also served as a Tory MP after being elected to the Tunbridge Wells constituency in 1997, and then went on to become chief executive of the Conservative Party under William Hague.

Shore Capital's Clive Black said Norman was a "formidable appointment".

Investec's Kate Calvert added: "Archie has a fantastic reputation and great experience in retail and I'm sure he can help them formulate their strategy". Vindi Banga, M&S senior independent director who led the selection process, said Mr Norman was selected after "a very rigorous appointment process", and is "one of the most respected business leaders in the UK".

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