Marks & Spencer chairman Robert Swannell will retire next year, after six years in the role.

The retailer will now begin the search for its next chairman, led by senior independent director Vindi Banga.

Swannell will continue in his role through that search.

He said: “A year ago we chose Steve Rowe as our chief executive. Steve completed a thorough analysis of the business and developed a detailed plan to build a simpler and more relevant M&S.

“This plan is now under way and I feel that it is the right time for the business to look for a new chairman. It is a real privilege to chair this iconic company and I will continue to do so until my successor is in place.”

Swannell has presided over M&S at a time when, although improvements have been made, the business has failed to jettison its falling clothing sales.

More to follow