M&S: Who’s who post-reshuffle?

Few would deny that Marks and Spencer has had a turbulent year.

The supermarket proved slower to pivot to online retail than its competitors, and figures from May show a £201 million loss since last year.

Like the Co-op and Waitrose, it also took flak for refusing to return taxpayer funds from its multi-million business rates relief.

Yet, the Marks and Spencer leadership believe they have steered the company away from any financial icebergs.

Chief executive Steve Rowe recently announced that the company had completed the first step (“Fixing the Basics”) of a three-part “transformation programme”.

To take the grocer through its next phase, the top table of Marks and Spencer executives has been reshuffled.

Not only will the supermarket depend on these people to “restore growth” and “reinvest in the brand”, most expect Rowe’s eventual successor to be drawn from their ranks.

So, who’s who?

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Stuart Machin

Although Stuart Machin has taken up a new role as joint chief operating officer, he will apparently retain his old duties as managing director of food.

He has only been with the supermarket since 2018, but has spent his entire working life in the grocery sector.

Starting at Sainsbury’s in the late 1980s, he worked his way up to operations director over the next 16 years.

After similar roles at Tesco and Asda, Machin spent a decade on the other side of the world, becoming chief operating officer of Australian retailer Coles.

He was later appointed chief executive of Target, but resigned after an accounting probe revealed the supermarket’s revenue had been inflated by $21 million.

At the time, Machin claimed that he “was not aware” of the fraud, but took his “share of responsibility”.

“The right thing is now for me to move on,” he added, returning to Britain the following year.

Three months ago he was touted as a replacement to outgoing Asda chief executive Roger Burnley.

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Katie Bickerstaffe

Like her fellow chief operating officer Stuart Machin, Katie Bickerstaffe joined Marks and Spencer in 2018, as a non-executive director.

She moved to the executive team two years later, when she became the chief strategy and transformation director.

As chief executive of Dixons, Bickerstaffe oversaw a £3.8 billion merger between the electronics retailer and Carphone Warehouse.

She left in April 2018, becoming the third Dixons executive to resign in under three months.

She worked a four-day week at Dixons to make time for her young family, and continued to do so when she took on the strategy job at Marks and Spencer.

It’s unclear whether this is still the case in Bickerstaffe’s new post, but it seems likely given that the role has been divided between her and Machin.

She is also a member of the England and Wales Cricket Board.

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Eoin Tonge

Like Machin, Eoin Tonge is a director of Ocado, with whom Marks and Spencer concluded a £750 million deal in September last year.

He has kept his current job as chief financial officer in the top table shake-up, while gaining Bickerstaffe’s old strategy and transformation roles.

He was paid £600,000 when he joined the board in 2020. It’s unclear whether his salary has increased along with his portfolio.

Graduating with a first in engineering from University College Dublin, Tonge worked at Goldman Sachs for 12 years before switching to retail.

In 2016, he became chief financial officer of Irish food manufacturer Greencorp.

Coincidentally, the company makes sandwiches for Marks and Spencer.

When Humphrey Singer resigned from the supermarket in late 2019 after it dropped out of the FTSE 100, Tonge stepped into the role.

With the reshuffle seen as creating a “three horse race” to succeed chief executive Steve Rowe, Tonge is regarded as the current favourite.

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Sacha Berendji

Unlike everyone else on this list, Sacha Berendji is a Marks and Spencer lifer.

He joined on a graduate training scheme in 1994, and despite moving around the country for the next 15 years to take up different positions, he has never left the company.

Berendji became executive assistant to chief executive Sir Stuart Rose in 2009, and continued in the same role under Marc Bolland.

After a brief stint as director of merchandising, he became retail director in 2012.

It was in this role that Berendji announced, in March this year, that Marks and Spencer’s flagship Marble Arch location could be demolished and redeveloped.

“Our proposal to redevelop Marble Arch is the latest example of how we are shifting gears in creating a store estate fit for the future,” he said at the time.

He had been general manager of the famous store earlier in his career.

The latest reshuffle has put Berendji in charge of property, store development and IT.

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