According to City analysts, Waitrose would be a fertile hunting ground for candidates. Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Tony Shiret and Baird analyst Paul Smiddy both cited Price as a strong contender.
Shiret said Waitrose MD Steven Esom would be the ideal choice, but he would be unlikely to trade his current job.
However, Shiret did not rule out the possibility of Tesco or Asda being the source for
Helfgott’s replacement. He said newly-appointed M& S chief executive Stuart Rose would probably be keen to recruit someone from either of the two multiples. Whoever assumes the role will be crucial to M& S’ success, because food sales remain a core growth area, while its clothes business has continued to struggle.
Sainsbury’s outgoing MD Stuart Mitchell and former Safeway trading director Jack Sinclair were less favoured as replacements by the City.
Helfgott had been moved out of food because his skills were better suited to clothing, said Rose. “Maurice is a textiles man - a square peg in a round hole.”
Helfgott moved to his new role of head of menswear, childrenswear and home on June 11. His deputy Guy Farrant has taken the helm temporarily.