Marks & Spencer has been hit with the surprise departure of finance and operations director Ian Dyson – just two days into the Marc Bolland era.

Dyson is leaving to become chief executive of pub operator Punch Taverns.

He joined the retailer as finance chief in 2005, stepping up to become group finance and operations director the following year.

Prior to this he was finance director of The Rank Group and before that group financial controller of Hilton Group.

The news comes after Bolland yesterday officially took over the reins as chief executive of the high street icon.

Alongside food boss John Dixon and clothing and homewares chief Kate Bostock, Dyson had been touted as a candidate to replace Sir Stuart Rose as chief executive before former Morrisons boss Bolland was handed the role.

M&S chairman Sir Stuart Rose thanked Dyson for “the significant contribution” he made in five years at the retailer.

“His leadership of the team driving Project 2020, our investment in infrastructure, will stand the business in good stead in years to come," Sir Stuart said.

Dyson said: “Although the timing of an announcement of this sort is never perfect, my background in leisure makes Punch a very exciting opportunity and one I couldn't ignore."

Dyson’s move is likely to fuel speculation that Bolland will look to replace him with Morrisons CFO Richard Pennycook. Pennycook was believed to have been in the running to step up to replace Bolland at Morrisons.

However, the Dutchman may well struggle to prise his former colleague away from Bradford as its understood that part of the deal to allow him to join M&S was that he could not bring any of his senior team with him.

Read more
Bolland begins new era at Marks & Spencer (4 May 2010)
Gel-ignite: 20 challenges for Marc Bolland at M&S (10 April 2010)
Does Marks & Spencer beckon for the passed-over Pennycook? (30 January 2010)