Marks & Spencer Chief Executive at British ORT Business Breakfast


04 April 2008 Marks & Spencer Chief Executive at British ORT Business Breakfast The strong links between the iconic retailer Marks & Spencer and ORT were highlighted by Sir Stuart Rose, the companys Chief Executive, at the British ORT Business Breakfast today. Sir Stuart, who is credited with steering the multi-billion-pound high street chain back into popularity, said both Marks & Spencer and ORT were founded in the 1880s. More recently, a director of Marks & Spencer, Gabriel Sacher, was Chairman of ORT and another director, Sir David Sieff, is president of British ORT, Sir Stuart said. Together we share the same values in education and training, giving people a leg up and doing our bit in society to help people. With an audience of 250 top corporate and professional representatives, Sir Stuart used the occasion to explain his companys decision to elevate him to the role of Executive Chairman a controversial move because it departs from the provisions of the Combined Code on Corporate Governance when Lord Burns stands down as Chairman in June. Sir Stuart is due to occupy the position until 2011. Sir Stuart had been expected to step down as Chief Executive next year, after five years with Marks & Spencer, which has more than 600 stores in the United Kingdom and a further 240 stores in 34 countries. It was, he said, in line with his clear preference for internal succession, to nurture managerial talent that was already imbued with the values, goals and strategy of Marks & Spencer. The alternative, of bringing in someone from outside, could create uncertainty at a time when the retail environment is deteriorating. I have been very hands on in the boardroom and its now time for me to show the other people that theres room for them to show the skills that theyve got, he said. Its like being the chef in a restaurant: Ive been cooking the dinner and Im now going to stand slightly back as the executive chef and let someone else cook the dinner. But Im going to make sure that, when the dinner gets served, youll like it. He firmly rejected accusations in some parts of the media that this was a power grab saying it was, in fact, the clear and right decision for the business made after lengthy and serious deliberations. The Board came to a decision. Its paid to make the right decision; its not paid to make popular decisions. We will do everything possible to make sure that within this structure we maintain the highest corporate governance standards. And when someone else comes through the business, I will be very happy to go, he said. Addressing the general economic situation, Sir Stuart said that his natural optimism had given way in recent months to seeing the glass half empty. Im cautious about the outlook, he said. I dont think this is a few-months dip. Were preparing for a sustained period of difficulty. However, he said that Marks & Spencer was in pretty good shape with a strong balance sheet and cash flow, and profitability the best it had been for a decade. The British ORT Business Breakfast, sponsored by Aurum Funds Ltd and Wizz2u Ltd, attracted corporate support from Bank Leumi, Blick Rothenberg, Dawnay Day Capital Markets, Gems Advisors, Heron International, IDT Global, Lehman Brothers, Lloyds TSB, the PR Office, Travelex, and Vantis. Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor was among the guests. The founder and long time Chairman of the British ORT Business Breakfast, British ORT Vice President Michael Naughton, was unable to attend due to ill health. On behalf of all present host Lloyd Dorfman, founder and Chairman of the worlds largest non-bank foreign exchange business Travelex, wished him a speedy recovery. In welcoming Sir Stuart to the event at the Park Lane Hotel, London, Mr Dorfman (pictured with, from left, British ORT Executive Director Ivor Levene OBE, Sir David Sieff, and Sir Stuart Rose) also referred to the economy. Despite the current economic climate, for ORT it has been business as usual. Opportunities can often be scarcer than ability and ORT aims simply to bridge that gap. Its very ethos has always been that education leads to self-sufficiency and these skills lead to employment. ORT is a charity which, uniquely, does not give hand-outs so much as leg-ups. The event was concluded by British ORT Chairman Alan Goldman who spoke about ORTs work around the world.