Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Boardroom Switches

Two UK companies previously featured on this blog have confirmed interesting management changes.

Marks and Spencer, the retailers, who two weeks ago announced the end of their own label only policy have appointed Mark Bolland, Chief Executive of competing retailer Morrisons. It will be interesting to see how Bolland copes as a newcomer to Marks and Spencer, a traditionally fairly insular organisation. Bolland has been very successful at Morrisons, managing to grow sales by 8% over the last year, and increasing market share from 10.8% to 11.8% over the last 15 months. It will be interesting to see how Bolland, a Dutchman, does at M&S; its last executive from overseas, Belgian retail expert Luc Vandevelde, had limited success during his tenure as Chairman and Chief Executive between 2000 and 2003.

Meanwhile struggling commercial broadcaster ITV have announced the appointment of former ASDA Chief Executive Archie Norman. Archie Norman has had a varied career, which also included stints as the Finance Director of Kingfisher, which owned Woolworths for many years, as well as being a Tory MP in William Hague's shadow cabinet. Norman's contribution at ASDA has probably been his biggest achievement so far. Norman remodelled ASDA, which which had pioneered the Hypermarket concept in Britain, on the US giant Wal-Mart, expanding the company's discount non-food lines and avoiding the move upmarket taken by other food retailers. Employment policies were also changed, with the introduction of new bonus structures and employee empowerment schemes inspired by those used by the fast growing Hi-Fi specialist store Richer Sounds. This strategy was so successful that when Wal-Mart was seeking to enter the UK market in 1999, but unable to do so on its own due to planning constraints, it simply purchased ASDA, which has continued to perform well under Wal-Mart ownership. Mr Norman now hopes to turn around ITV, claiming that he had even considered purchasing the company directly through his private equity company Aurigo Investment Partners. Its unclear if perhaps he will go outside of the UK to find inspiration this time, perhaps from the way that US TV broadcasting operates. It seems unlikely that with its core competency in television, which is essentially a declining technology, that ITV will be able to sustain itself alone in the long run. Perhaps Mr Norman can prepare the company so that one day it might become CBS or NBC UK? ABC's owners Disney have been mooted as possible purchasers for ITV in the past, after all.


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About Me

London, United Kingdom
I'm Lecturer in Management at The York Management School, at The University of York, UK. I teach strategic management to undergraduate and masters students, as well as running the masters dissertation module. My research focuses on business and management history.