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M&S insists HR remains key despite recent shake-up

Marks and Spencer (M&S) has denied that the role of HR will be sidelined when HR director Keith Cameron leaves next month as part of a controversial shake-up of the board.

The retailer this week announced that Cameron and the director of Far East sourcing, Stuart McIvor, would be retiring while four other senior executives would also be departing. Finance director Ian Dyson is to become group finance and operations director, taking on responsibility for HR and retail alongside his existing responsibilities for finance, logistics, property and store development.

Chief executive Sir Stuart Rose takes on the additional role of executive chairman, causing much controversy among shareholders who believe the two roles should remain mutually exclusive. In his new role Rose will develop the company's next generation of leaders as well as taking on responsibility for product areas.

M&S denies Cameron's replacement - which HR can reveal will be female - will have a more limited remit than the current HR director enjoys. The role will continue to be represented on the executive committee.

"Nothing has changed," an M&S spokeswoman told HR. "HR is still an important part of our business."

As a core member of Rose's turnaround team, Cameron - who joined in 2004 - was instrumental in reviving the fortunes of M&S, helping to transform it from a paternalistic culture to a competitive one. He has had to deal with the sensitive area of changing final- salary pensions in a workforce that comprises many who have been with the firm for decades. He also oversaw the controversial 10 million motivation programme, which featured business guru Mary Gober.

Speaking to HR, Keith Cameron joked that he had been in partial retirement for a while: "Stuart had me sitting on my deckchair," he said. Cameron also said his three non-executive jobs - including Britannia Building Society and Work plc - will keep him busy when he steps down next month. He revealed he is hoping to get a fourth non-executive role.