Over the last few months I’ve paid closer attention than usual to the travails of Marc Bolland, the CEO of Marks & Spencer.
Every time I sat back on a long flight I was able to read another news story which added to my already formed opinion that the time HAS ran out for him. His biggest challenge now is that as these stories of failure continue to run they no longer appear in isolation. No they are juxtaposed with positive news about Dave Lewis, the new CEO of Tesco who is already comprehensively turning that ship around.
There is a very British phrase, “jam tomorrow” which springs to mind (and is appropriate bearing in mind the only M&S highlight is their food performance which has very little to do with Bolland), and this seems to be the CEO’s constant refrain – better news soon.
But it no longer washes. The catastrophic failures of the M&S eCommerce business are legion and resulted in that part of their business dropping as the competitive set increased. Their stores continue to look tired, they don’t have a finger on the pulse of fashion and blaming a late start to winter was just one of many excuses which didn’t seem to impact anyone else.
So what happens next ?
Well in my opinion action should have been taken 12 months ago. Bolland may well have been a superstar at Heineken and then Morrison’s but M&S has been beyond him.
Organizations have a habit of hanging on to CEOs for too long – when they have very little to show for their tenure other than excuses it is time to show them the door.
Marks & Spencer can, and will, survive but leadership change needs to happen – yesterday.