Marks and Spencer Group PLC (LSE:MKS) is laying the groundwork for a change at the top, while reports have emerged that a private equity giant is paying an interest.

Apollo Global, the US private equity firm, has examined a potential takeover of the food and clothing retailer, according to City sources cited in the Sunday Times.

The private equity firm, which was interested but lost out on the purchases of both Asda and Morrisons, was reported to be still interested in British supermarkets.

Apollo looked into a purchase of M&S “in recent months” and felt the shares were undervalued, but with an 80% rise since the start of August, the newspaper stated that it was “unclear” if interest had waned.

Meanwhile, at the retailer’s headquarters in Paddington, preparations are being made for chief executive Steve Rowe to step down by mid-2023, having stepped up to the top role in the summer of 2016.

Chairman Archie Norman earlier this year oversaw the appointment of a pair of joint chief operating officers, Katie Bickerstaffe and Stuart Machin, while chief financial officer Eoin Tonge recently took on additional strategic and transformation planning responsibilities.

Former Dixons boss Bickerstaffe was appointed to the M&S board as a non-executive director in 2018 and shifted to an executive role as chief strategy and transformation director, with her current remit being data, services, Clothing & Home and international businesses.

Machin oversees food as well as operations, property, store development and IT.

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