So the weekend press story that the Marks & Spencer (MKS) chief financial officer Humphrey Singer was set to resign has been confirmed. Naturally it is all nice words ('I feel privileged to be a part of the challenging but hugely rewarding turnaround at Marks & Spencer') but let's face it, no CFO exits into the night if something is about to go hugely right – especially after some well-publicised tough times…
If you cut through the back slaps and the RNS speak ('Humphrey has been a huge asset to the business. He has helped to establish the foundations of our transformation with a stronger balance sheet, robust financial controls and a much keener focus on reducing our cost base'), the reality is that turning around M&S is not easy and I understand via the grapevine that the Chair Archie Norman has been somewhat exacting. As I noted earlier in the month, 'the recent harsher and focused management style by Archie Norman and Steve Rowe...has given the company the most viable future potential backdrop for a generation. I still think this despite being down on my two quid odd average in price'.
I have noted before that the pareto principle is hugely relevant for modern day corporations. You have to find those 20% of employees that add over 80% of the value to your business. My guess is that Humphrey despite a big old salary and historic reputation just cannot quite cut it. At least he will carry on in his role to handover to a replacement...who hopefully will live up to the standards of the Chair.
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Irony of ironies though is that this is also when the company formally falls out of the FTSE-100. So the omnishambles continues at one level but at another at least the Chair is de facto making some decisions on people. If M&S is ever going to succeed as a business then it needs people that are going to add value. So the CFO should just go. At least, like being relegated to the FTSE-250, expectations are now super low. Now it is time to channel the pareto principle fully.
Filed under: Marks & Spencer, Versarien, Metro Bank, Brady, Woodford, KEFI, Hotel Chocolat
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