Sir Richard Greenbury, ex-chairman and chief executive of Marks & Spencer, who led the retailer to profits of more than £1bn for the first time, has defended the reward package given to incoming boss Marc Bolland.

Greenbury, who is also famous for leading a business committee on corporate governance in the mid-1990s that recommended caps on bonuses, said that the remuneration environment has been transformed. He described Bolland’s £15m package as “in line” with present trends.

He said Bolland was “an excellent manager and a good choice” and maintained: “I think his package is in line with what top executives in retail and the business world are getting, especially bearing in mind it [M&S] poached him.”

When he ran Marks & Spencer, Greenbury earned £600,000 a year and his bonus was capped at 20% of salary. However, he said: “The remuneration scene bears no relation to what it was 10 or 12 years ago. Now a footballer can earn £100,000 a week.”

Bolland’s reward was also defended over the weekend by M&S executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose, who said the deal had been benchmarked against other companies.

He said: “If you’re looking to get the right level of people and that is the market rate you have to pay the market rate. If you look around that is what big retail players are being paid at the moment.”

Bolland’s compensation has been criticised by organisations such as investment adviser Pirc.

M&S has signed a raft of new names for its spring 2010 ad campaign. X-Factor judge Dannii Minogue will feature, alongside Brazilian model Ana Beatriz Barros, pop star VV Brown, Capital Radio presenter Lisa Snowdon and long-standing M&S model Twiggy.