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Derek George Rayner, Baron Rayner (30 March 1926 – 26 June 1998) was an English businessman who was chairman and chief executive of Marks & Spencer plc (now generally known as M&S), one of the major British retailers who revived and rapidly expanded the company in the 1980s. He began working for the company in 1953 as a management trainee[1] and became the first chief executive outside the founding families of the company.[2]

The Lord Rayner
Born(1926-03-30)30 March 1926
Died26 June 1998(1998-06-26) (aged 72)
OccupationChairman, Marks & Spencer



Marks & SpencerEdit

Rayner began working for M&S as a management trainee 1953 at the company's store in Oxford[2] when the company's then chairman, Lord Marcus Sieff, asked his advice about a problem. He rose rapidly in the company's management and became a director in 1967.

By the 1980s the company's trademark, "St. Michael", was outdated and the company sales of clothing and household goods went into decline.[1] Rayner restored the company by holding down costs and encouraging enterprise by employees. He also introduced strict financial controls, refurbishment of the larger stores and additional expansion. In 1988 under his control the company bought the Brooks Brothers clothing company of Canada for $750m, introduced a store charge card and opened more British stores.


His tight financial controls and strong management practices at M&S led to him working for the British Government headed by Edward Heath, serving in a variety of posts. From 1970-73 he arranged for the three British military services to use a single procurement office, the MoD Procurement Executive.[1]

He also advised Margaret Thatcher on improving Government efficiency, including reducing the number of meetings officials held.

He returned to M&S in 1982. In 1984, he became the first person from outside the founding families to become chief executive.

Personal lifeEdit

Rayner was educated at City College Norwich and Selwyn College, Cambridge.[3] In 1973 he was knighted for his government work[4] and on 3 February 1983 he was created a life peer as Baron Rayner, of Crowborough in the County of East Sussex.[5] He was a bachelor with no known dependents.[1][6]


  1. ^ a b c d New York Times obituary, 12 July 1998
  2. ^ a b "Marks in Time" website includes picture
  3. ^ Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography, Volume One: Not For Turning - Charles Moore - Google Books Retrieved 2019-04-11.
  4. ^ "No. 45933". The London Gazette. 20 March 1973. p. 3645.
  5. ^ "No. 49260". The London Gazette. 8 February 1983. p. 1869.
  6. ^ "The Rise and Fall of M&S" - BBC report 28 September 2001
Business positions
Preceded by
Joint Managing Director of Marks & Spencer
1973 - 1991
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Greenbury
Preceded by
Chairman of Marks & Spencer
1984 - 1991
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Greenbury