British retailer Marks and Spencer said Thursday that chief executive Marc Bolland would retire, as the group announced a slump in clothing sales during the key Christmas trading period.

“Marks and Spencer Group plc today announces that Marc Bolland has informed the board that, after six years in the role, he wishes to retire as CEO in 2016,” the clothing-to-food retailer said in a statement.

He will be succeeded by M&S veteran Steve Rowe at the start of April, who will receive a basic annual salary of £810,000 ($1.18 million, 1.1 million euros), it added.

While Bolland has overseen a strong performance by the group’s food division, clothing sales have consistently been weak under his stewardship.

M&S on Thursday said that sales in its general merchandise division, which includes clothing and household items but not food, slumped by 5.8 percent in the 13 weeks to December 26 — hit by milder-than-expected weather.

“Unseasonal weather impacted sales across the clothing sector and resulted in unprecedented levels of promotional activity in the market,” the company said.

On the upside, Bolland said that M&S had delivered a “record Christmas” regarding sales of its food.

Amid a sea of red on global stock markets, M&S shares managed to eke out a gain of 0.3 percent to 440 pence.

The group’s latest “results were certainly a mixed bag, as expected, but the departure of Marc Bolland will provide an opportunity for a fresh approach and further change”, said Ian Forrest, investment research analyst at The Share Centre.


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