Marks and Spencer
Archie Norman, who has held senior posts at Asda and Kingfisher, will replace Robert Swannell on 1 September iStock

Marks&Spencer has appointed retail veteran and former Conservative MP Archie Norman as its new chairman.

Norman, who has held senior posts at Asda and Kingfisher, will replace current head Robert Swannell when he steps down on 1 September. Shares lifted 5% in early trading.

Earlier this week M&S hired Halfords chief executive, Jill McDonald, to take charge of its clothing, home and beauty business.

The announcement comes at a critical time for the high street stalwart as it closes stores, boosts its food business and seeks to revive its clothing division, which once drove profits at the retailer.

M&S is led by chief executive Steve Rowe, who took over from former boss Marc Bolland last April.

Norman, who stood down as ITV chairman last year, said: "I am looking forward to taking on the role of the chairmanship of Marks&Spencer as the business under Steve Rowe's leadership faces into the considerable challenges ahead in a rapidly changing retail landscape."

The businessman, who was MP for Tunbridge Wells for four years from 1997, has also served as chairman for Lazard investment bank in London.

M&S senior independent director Vindi Banga, who led the search for the new chairman, said: "Having conducted a very rigorous appointment process, it was clear to us that Archie was the best person to be chairman. Archie is one of the most respected business leaders in the UK with extensive experience as both chief executive and chairman, and a proven record in retail and other areas."

Norman forged his reputation as chief executive of Asda, which was faltering at the beginning of the 1990s but was sold for £6.5bn to giant US retailer Walmart in 1999.

Shore Capital analyst Clive Black said: "Norman is a formidable appointment who, alongside Steve Rowe, means that there are two very strong characters at the helm of a once great British label that is trying to refind its purpose and relevance to the British shopper to profitable effect."