Was This Man Worth 17 Million Pounds?

Clothing sales took a turn for the worse and never revived.
MARKS & SPENCER GROUP PLC
-3.80
At Closing, June 20th
293.60 GBp

Marks & Spencer has revealed in its annual report that it paid former Chief Executive Marc Bolland 17 million pounds ($24.6 million) during his six years at the helm of the high street retailer. The total includes 2 million pounds for his last year. So, what did it get for its money? 

Bolland arrived in May 2010, and departed in April 2016. Despite his efforts, he never managed to revive M&S's clothing and home furnishing sales. He achieved just one quarter of same store sales growth out of the last 19.  

Out of Fashion

Same-store sales of clothing and home furnishings at M&S mostly shrank during Bolland's tenure

Source: Bloomberg Intelligence

While clothing sales struggled, food fared better, although even its rate of growth slowed over the past year amid food price deflation and intense competition in the grocery market. 

Food First

M&S's food division has grown in every quarter over Bolland's tenure

Source: Bloomberg Intelligence

Bolland invested about 3 billion pounds in infrastructure projects, including new warehouses and moving control of its website in-house. Some of this was necessary to modernize M&S's supply chain, and laid the ground for new Chief Executive Steve Rowe to make further changes. 

Big Spender

Capital expenditure at M&S rose under Marc Bolland as he invested in infrastructure projects

Source: Bloomberg

The overall effect was that the level of profits was little changed.

Middle Ground

Underlying profit growth at M&S lost its supremacy to Next over Bolland's tenure, but consistently outperformed Debenhams

Source: Bloomberg

M&S figures include food sales. Debenhams' 2016 reading is a forecast.

Shareholder returns were mixed.

Mixed Bag

Returns on M&S shares narrowly beat the FTSE, lagged other European retailers during Bolland's reign

Source: Bloomberg

That's not a great return from M&S's investment. And Rowe, who will be paid an annual salary of 810,000 pounds, is ditching some of the key planks of his strategy. The new leader wants to raise clothing sales volumes to a neglected core customer, instead of focusing on increasing the margin derived from clothing.

But he hasn't got off to a great start -- the shares are down 8 percent since he took the helm. M&S, which is still Britain's largest clothing store 1 , is looking to give its customers better value. Investors will want the same.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.
  1. By value of sales. 

To contact the author of this story:
Andrea Felsted in London at afelsted@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Jennifer Ryan at jryan13@bloomberg.net

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