When the profits of the once-mighty M&S took a dive, so did the reputation of its ex-boss. Media attacks and now a new book on his long reign have left him reeling. The charge: complacent, bullying leadership at the firm he worked at for 45 years. How does he plead?
Sir Richard Greenbury is down but not out. 'I am upset,' he says, narrowing those watery blue eyes, 'and it does get under my skin, but I have got my family and friends and, well, in a few days I will get over it all.'
I wonder. For a man who only five years ago enjoyed a reputation as one of the most admired businessmen in Britain, the past month or so, maybe even the past two years, have been a bit of a shock. Since bundling out of M&S, the company he gave most of his life to, he has watched it split asunder, profits crashing, its good name kicked onto the shop floor. That's one thing. The recent publication of a new book about M&S, and the resultant publicity this autumn that has blamed Greenbury for the company's collapse, is another. It has clearly rocked him to his core.