Rose makes surprise move to private equity

Sir Stuart Rose says he will take up a role at Bridgepoint at the beginning of next year. A Rose in any other job...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

At 61 years old, you’d be forgiven for thinking that when M&S chairman Sir Stuart Rose hangs up his apron next month, he'd seize the opportunity to swap the boardroom for the garden and enjoy a well-earned retirement. Rose, though, clearly has no plans to become accustomed to the quiet life. He's just made the surprise revelation that he'll be joining the European Advisory Committee of private equity firm Bridgepoint, where he'll be providing guidance to the firm’s investments. So it looks like the closest Rose will get to taking up a new hobby is dishing out advice to Bridgepoint-owned Hobbycraft.

It’s an interesting move by Rose. There had been rumours that David Cameron was keen to offer him a role in Government - though for a man whose entire career to date has been in the retail sector (he started on M&S’ trainee scheme in 1972), the daily wrangle with bureaucracy that a job in Government involves might have come as something of a shock. And moving into private equity might not seem an obvious choice - although Bridgepoint’s investments include sandwich chain Pret a Manger and clothing chain FatFace, both of which operate in familiar territory for Rose. Still, for someone so accustomed to walking around the shop floor and feeling the quality of the merchandise, it's difficult to know how long an advisory role will be able to hold his attention.

Rose is best known for turning around the fortunes of an ailing M&S in 2004 after a period of unpopularity (he told press he ‘knows what the ladies want’, which turned out to be posh sandwiches and reliable underwear - who knew?). One of his earliest achievements was fending off a hostile takeover bid from rival retailer Philip Green; now, at Bridgepoint, he'll be on the other side of the fence, helping to orchestrate takeovers. Good to be able to think like the enemy, we suppose...

Sadly, though, the new role might put paid to Rose’s small-screen ambitions. Earlier this month, the smooth-talking retailer hinted that he might be interested in presenting a ‘Troubleshooter-style’ business show, following in the footsteps of industrialist Sir John Harvey-Jones, who fronted the BBC series in the late 80s. So for the moment, it looks like Suralan will remain the only business peer on TV. Which is a shame – ‘Surstuart’ has a nice sibilance to it…

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