Sir Stuart Rose: from Marks & Spencer to mobile shopping

Ex-M&S boss Sir Stuart Rose is joining Mobile Money Network as chairman, to lend his experience to m-commerce

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

The new home of the former M&S figurehead is a joint venture between Best Buy Europe and mobile payment group Monitise. It may not be the biggest name in retail (especially compared with his last role), but he’ll be taking a seat on the board alongside Charles Dunstone, the man who started Carphone Warehouse (Dunstone founded his chain from a flat in Marylebone, and later flogged half the business to Best Buy for £1bn – so he’s someone who clearly knows his onions when it comes to the next big thing in mobiles.)

So Rose is in good company, but he's also one to pick his roles wisely. The way things are moving, shopping on your mobile is the logical next stage in the melding of our technology and shopping habits. Smartphone ownership is growing at 70% a year, and three-quarters of UK consumers are expected to own one within the next 18 months. Experts predict that more consumers will connect to the internet via mobiles than desktop PCs within five years.

Rose may have left M&S, but it seems he's still affecting the retailer's fortunes. M&S shares slipped 1.8p at 351.5p this morning after suggestions that Rose could have sold some of his 1.4m shares. He was restricted from reducing his stake in Marks until the start of this month, but now that he's moving into these new roles traders reckon he may be diversifying his shareholdings too.

Rose joins MMN just as it launches its first product, simply tap, an app that allows payment for and delivery of an item just by tapping a product code into your phone. The company said it was in talks with 17 of the top 20 UK high street retailers about adopting the service. Indeed, if you can identify constellations, find a girlfriend, and measure paranormal activity on your phone, then buying a set of curling tongs without having to carry cash seems remarkably practical by comparison.

So while mobile looks like the future of retail, Rose has wasted no time in boosting his own prospects post-M&S. After stepping down from his coveted post at the end of last year, he joined the advisory board of Bridgepoint, the private equity firm that owns Pret A Manger and Fat Face. He's also been mooted as a possible chairman of both Formula One and the online retail group The Hut. Not satisfied with that, he's also a member of the Office for National Statistics panel tasked with delivering David Cameron's goal of measuring happiness. Clearly he's one who subscribes to the thought that happiness is tied up with keeping mobile.

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