Stuart Rose: "I'm not worried about tomorrow"

On the eve of arguably one of the most significant days of his career, you’d expect Marks and Spencer chairman and chief executive Sir Stuart Rose to be tense, to say the least.

With the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) set to take place at the Royal Albert Hall tomorrow, Rose will face questions from shareholders over his ability to run the company after it showed signs of decline during the recession.

So it was with surprise Smarta noted Rose’s remarkably unruffled appearance when he spoke at this morning’s Careers Academy UK conference. After a glowing introduction by the organisation’s chief executive John May, Rose joked: “I think you should come to our AGM. I suspect the audience will be rather less friendly.”

Smarta caught up with him after the speech to ask how he was coping with shareholder criticism, which is reported to have extended to calls for him to resign the post of chairman before his tenure ends in 2011.

“Look, the thing is, this shareholder criticism has been around for 12 years,” he told us. “It’s nothing new.”

He pointed out it’s not just he who will face criticism tomorrow. “This isn’t about Stuart Rose, it’s about the board. We’ll all be there tomorrow.”

So while the media contents itself attempting to name his successors, Rose enjoys an almost superhuman level of calm – testament, perhaps, to a man who has faced repeated criticism from shareholders while enjoying a tremendous amount of support from the public. We've no doubt that while much of the board may struggle to get some shut-eye, Rose will have no problem getting to sleep tonight.

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