Marks and Spencer CEO Marc Bolland will leave the company in April, the retailer said as it announced its Christmas results.
Marc Bolland will be succeeded by Steve Rowe, executive director of general merchandise.
Third-quarter sales of general merchandise were down by 5.8% for the thirteen weeks to December 26.
However, M&S said it had an “excellent quarter” for food, with record sales in the Christmas week.
There was no pressure on Marc Bolland to leave from shareholders or the board, Marks and Spencer chairman Robert Swannell said on a conference call with reporters.
Marc Bolland is retiring after six years in the role.
“There has been absolutely no pressure at all on Marc [to leave],” Robert Swannell said, adding that succession planning had been “rigorous”.
Planning Marc Bolland’s succession had not been done “quickly on the back of an envelope”, but instead had been a process that had gone on “for years”, Robert Swannell added.
He declined to discuss whether Marks and Spencer had considered external candidates, but said the company had used “external benchmarking” during a “thorough, rigorous process” to select candidates.
Marc Bolland had informed the board in the summer of 2015 of his intention to leave in mid-2016, he said.
Steve Rowe will receive a salary of £810,000 ($1.21 million) from April 2, 2016, as part of his chief executive remuneration package, the company said.
He has been employed by Marks and Spencer for more than 25 years, and has had roles including director of retail and e-commerce and positions in general merchandise.
Marks and Spencer’s third quarter general merchandise sales, which include clothing, were “disappointing”, the company said.
The 5.8% drop in sales was put down to “unseasonal conditions and availability”. Retailers such as Next also blamed unseasonably warm weather in December for disappointing sales.
However, food sales for Marks and Spencer were up 0.4% in Q3, and the retailer said it had record sales in the Christmas week, up 17%.
Online sales rose more than 20% in Q3, it added.
Marks and Spencer has had recurrent problems in general merchandise for a number of years.