Marks and Spencer
Marks and Spencer CEO Robert Swannell has announced his intention to step down in 2017.

Marks and Spencer (LON:MKS) Chairman Robert Swannell has announced his intention to step down next year, after 6 years at the helm.

Last year, the high-street giant appointed Steve Rowe as Chief Executive of the company, in a bid to revive its businesses which have showed signs of a downturn in recent years.

Mr Swannell said of the decision:

“A year ago we chose Steve Rowe as our chief executive”,  “Steve completed a thorough analysis of the business and developed a detailed plan to build a simpler and more relevant M&S.”

“This plan is now underway and I feel that it is the right time for the business to look for a new chairman”, he added. “It is a real privilege to chair this iconic company and I will continue to do so until my successor is in place.”

Last month, the company reported a 88 percent fall in profits, as its clothing division was met with weak consumer demand. In response to the hit, the store is to initiate the closure of 30 UK locations as well as reducing its presence overseas, such as scaling back on its food locations in France. As well as this, the brand is looking to reduce its exposure within the clothing market, by instead bolstering its continually successful “Simply Food” branches.

Efforts to streamline its overseas operations through franchises, reportedly will lead to one-off costs of between £150 million and £200 million for the company. Of the 83 stores that have thus far been closed, over half a reportedly overseas, outside of their core UK markets.

Prior to Mr Swannell’s appointment as Chairmain, the former banker famously avoided Marks and Spencer being subject to a £9.4 billion takeover bid from Sir Philip Green back in 2004. Sir Green is currently under scrutiny for his alleged poor management of failed department store BHS, as the retailer continues to hold a £571 million deficit relating to its pension scheme for employees.

The multinational retailer has yet to find a replacement for Mr Swannell, however shares were up 0.29% as of 11.34AM (GMT).