Marks & Spencer's chief executive, Stuart Rose, has failed to persuade Tesco's fashion boss, Terry Green, to quit the supermarket chain and join him at M&S.
Mr Green's decision not to switch sides will be viewed as an embarrassing snub for Mr Rose, who was keen to sign up Mr Green – a friend and former colleague – to strengthen his senior management team. He intended to install him as head of M&S womenswear, one of the biggest jobs in the fashion retail industry.
Mr Rose has made it clear he wants to "strengthen the bench" at M&S and will find roles for talented retailers so that he can concentrate on strategy. He is understood to have approached Mr Green, chief executive of Tesco's UK clothing business, in December and the pair are said to have held further talks about a role at M&S in recent weeks. Mr Rose worked with Mr Green at the Burton Group in the 1990s.
Details of the talks were leaked at the weekend and Tesco's boss, Sir Terry Leahy, was said to be furious about losing Mr Green, who has been working to inject more fashion into Tesco's clothing ranges and take the business upmarket.
Less than six months ago Mr Green set out a plan to steal business off Marks & Spencer by devoting more of Tesco's store space to clothing and expanding the range of clothing to home shopping catalogues and the internet. Sir Terry has described Mr Green as "a brilliant merchant".
Yesterday there was widespread speculation that Mr Green had been persuaded to stay at Tesco with an enhanced pay deal and a new role as head of Tesco's non-food business. Tesco's commercial and trading director, Richard Brasher – who oversees the non-food business and is Mr Green's boss – insisted his fashion supremo did not have to be persuaded to stay and that he had not been promoted to ensure his loyalty.
"Terry works for me and continues to work for me. He has not tendered his resignation … Terry says he's very happy working for Tesco … He is not joining the board and he is not taking my job."
Mr Green was in Hong Kong over the weekend when the suggestion that he was about join M&S emerged. If he has been awarded a large pay rise to stay at Tesco it will not be detailed as he is not a director. Sources close to the talks with Mr Rose said: "It is just one of those things. It could have gone either way."
Mr Green joined Tesco in October 2005, nine months after presiding over the collapse of the Allders department store group with debts of more than £300m.
Source : Unlimited