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Britain's M&S names former Rentokil exec as interim finance chief

FILE PHOTO: Logo of food and clothes' retailer Marks and Spencer is seen at a branch in London

By Radhika Anilkumar

(Reuters) - Britain's Marks and Spencer (M&S) on Friday named former Rentokil executive Jeremy Townsend as its interim chief financial officer, days after the clothing and food retailer said its annual profits would fall amid a cost-of-living crisis.

Townsend, 58, will take over from Eoin Tonge early next year at a time when British consumers are trying to navigate rising energy and grocery bills, as well as higher mortgages and rents.

Shares of the company, which this month warned of a "gathering storm" of higher costs and pressure on household budgets, were up 2% at 123.15 pence by 1106 GMT.

"Jeremy will be an excellent addition, bringing with him a wealth of financial leadership experience, as we accelerate our plans to reshape M&S for growth," M&S Chief Executive Stuart Machin said in a statement.

The company did not say why Townsend was being appointed on an interim basis, nor how long he was expected to serve.

Townsend has worked in various finance roles. The British businessman retired as finance boss at pest control firm Rentokil in 2020 after about 10 years in the role and has also worked with pub operator Mitchells & Butlers.

M&S in July said Tonge would be quitting the company to head to AB Foods, owner of budget fashion chain Primark.

Separately on Friday, AB Foods said Tonge would join the company as its finance director designate on Feb. 6.

Townsend will start in his new role at M&S on Nov. 22.

(Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Mark Potter)