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M&S bolsters its board with two new directors ahead of crunch results

Jack Torrance
M&S has hired two new non-executive directors 

Marks & Spencer has bolstered its board with two new non-executive directors ahead of crunch results this week in which it is expected to reveal plans to close more stores.

Katie Bickerstaffe, formerly UK and Ireland boss of electricals seller Dixons Carphone, and Pip McCrostie, who previously led accounting giant EY’s corporate finance business, will join the retailer as it battles to reverse a long-term decline in clothes sales.

Analysts expect M&S to report a 7pc slump in pre-tax profits to £573m on Wednesday, raising fears it could fall out of the blue chip FTSE 100 index.

Marks and Spencer

Ms Bickerstaffe is set to become chief executive of the new energy giant that will be created from the planned merger between npower and SSE’s domestic supply arms announced earlier this year and previously worked at Kwik Save and Somerfield.

M&S said Ms McCrostie, who was a member of EY’s global executive team and also has a non-executive role at satellite operator Inmarsat, would bring  an “understanding of global business, M&A [and] corporate transactions,” as well as “financial and analytical discipline” to the board.

M&S profits

Both appointments will be put to a shareholder vote at the retailer’s AGM in July.

M&S is expected to reveal a 1.1pc drop in clothing sales on a like-for-like basis - from stores open more than one year - and a more modest 0.2pc drop in food sales on the same measure.

The retailer is expected to step up its store closure programme alongside the results, with the Sunday Times reporting it will shutter as many as 100 of its so-called full line stores - those with both food and clothing - up from previous plans for 60 closures.

Shares in M&S have almost halved in value since peaking at 594p in 2015. They were up 2.5pc at 299p in afternoon trade.