Steve Rowe
Steve Rowe has been at the company for more than 26 yearsM&S

Marks and Spencer has announced CEO Marc Bolland will step down from his role in April. With the 56-year-old revealing he will be retiring, the retailer will replace the Dutch businessman with Steve Rowe, who has been with the company for more than 26 years.

From shop floor to the helm of the firm, IBTimes UK looks at Rowe, his history at M&S and what the future for the new chief executive might look like.

Rowe joined M&S in 1989 at the age of 15 in and has worked his way up from the shop floor to director's room, with him joining head office in 1992. Climbing up via men's clothing and merchandise, it was a surprise when Rowe was appointed director of food in 2012.

It is probably his significant history in merchandise that made Rowe an appealing option as CEO, considering the GM division is the one M&S is struggling with the most. He succeeded John Dixon as merchandise director during a time in which the retailer's clothing range had been struggling to take off.

Although chairman Robert Swannell claimed Rowe had only known about his appointment two days before the announcement to shareholders, the future boss caused turmoil in 2014 when he told reporters he would be keen on Bolland's job.

At the time, pressure was mounting on Bolland but there was no direct cause for him to leave the firm. And Dixon, Rowe's merchandise predecessor, had been the favourite to take over from the Dutch CEO in the event he was removed from his role.

"The best retailer probably in the world, in my opinion, a company I've worked for and loved for 25 years, of course I'd love to," he answered the question if he would be keen on Bolland's position. "Who wouldn't?"

The retailer has clearly changed tact in its choice of CEO, going from Dutch businessman Bolland who cut his teeth at Heineken and Morrisons to south Londoner Rowe, who is an M&S veteran.

Swannell commented on Bolland's successor saying he was "delighted that, after the most rigorous succession planning, Marc will be succeeded by Steve Rowe". He added: "Steve has a deep knowledge of Marks and Spencer and a proven track record of delivering results in key parts of the business."