Marks and Spencer (MKS) has announced this morning that that Marc Bolland has informed the Board that, after six years in the role, he wishes to retire as CEO in 2016.

Bolland will be succeeded as CEO by Steve Rowe, executive director of general merchandise and former head of food.

Bolland will remain CEO and on the board until the end of the current financial year on 2 April 2016 when he will hand over to Rowe and will remain available in an advisory capacity to assist the transition until 30 June 2016.

Rowe has been with M&S for over 25 years and been a board member since 2012. Before joining the Board, Steve worked in a range of senior positions across the business including director of retail and e-commerce and various positions in general merchandise. In 2012 he was appointed as executive director, food, before shifting to executive director general merchandise in July 2015.

M&S said: “In particularly difficult market conditions Steve led the food business to produce 12 consecutive quarters of like for like growth, grow its margin and all its key performance metrics, continue its record of outstanding innovation and set out a path for further profitable growth.”

Chairman Robert Swannell said “Over the last six years Marc Bolland has led Marks & Spencer through a period of necessary change. Over this time, the company has made significant investment in enhanced infrastructure and capabilities.

“It is now positioned for a digital age, with its own on-line platform and dedicated e-commerce distribution centre, improved design and sourcing capabilities in general merchandise and an industry-leading track record of growth and innovation in the food business.

“I am delighted that, after the most rigorous succession planning, Marc will be succeeded by Steve Rowe. Steve has a deep knowledge of Marks & Spencer and a proven track record of delivering results in key parts of the business. The nomination committee was unanimous in supporting Steve’s appointment in the light of his considerable knowledge of the business and its people, his appetite to continue the process of change, particularly in general merchandise, his perceptive and effective problem solving, his values and his observed leadership.“

Marc Bolland added: “It has been a huge honour to lead one of Britain’s most iconic companies. I am delighted to handover to Steve Rowe as my successor. I have worked closely with Steve for six years and I am convinced that he will be a great leader for Marks & Spencer. I would like to thank all my colleagues and the board at Marks & Spencer for being so supportive of the drive to prepare M&S for the future. I am proud to leave such a large group of talent behind in the business.”

Steve Rowe said: “It is a great privilege to be appointed CEO of Marks & Spencer and to have the opportunity to lead this unique company and all its people forward.”