The names in the frame read like a who's who of the UK retail industry, with heavy hitters such as Boots boss Richard Baker, Tesco commercial director Richard Brasher and Sainsbury's trading director Mike Coupe all thought to be in the running. There were even rumours Morrisons could be the first of the big four to hand over the reins to a woman. WH Smith chief executive Kate Swann, Angela Spindler, global CEO of trading at Asda, and Morrisons' own MD Marie Melynk were all hotly tipped.
Store operations director Mark Gunter was another internal candidate touted by those in the know. The most leftfield suggestion, though, was that former Asda chief Tony DeNunzio would return to the fold. The one name that didn't figure in any speculation was the man who got the job. The appointment in June of Marc Bolland, former chief operating officer of Heineken, surprised analysts, who said he lacked sufficient retail experience.
Bolland is now conducting a root and branch review of the business and we should get a better idea of how things are going next year, but plans are thought to include a much-needed internet strategy.