Lord Rose talks to Observe about his role in "Britain Stronger in Europe" campaign

Why did you take on the role heading up the ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ campaign?

Because this is a once in a generation decision for our country and it is important that we get it right. I believe we are hugely strengthened by being within the European community. 

What do you think will be the most challenging aspects of the job?

The most challenging aspect of the job is getting started. We have made great progress to date. We have put a great team in place. We now have to deliver the results.

What elements of the Stronger in Europe campaign do you think will draw on the M&S turnaround experience?

In my experience people are very wise particularly when it comes to the big decisions. What they need are facts which will allow them to make the right decision. Britain Stronger in Europe’s job is to make sure that we present the case accurately and fairly.

Will you use some of the techniques that you used to make M&S so successful?

At M&S during and post the bid of 2004 our mantra was open, clear and regular communication. We aim for clarity in our campaign.

As a peer you will be familiar with the world of politics but how do you think you will deal with a major political task as distinct from a business task?

I see my role merely as a management role pulling together all those who support our views on the European question and making sure that we present the case cogently and effectively.

Will you bring in specific political advisors?

My role is that of Chairman of the Board. The executive team is very ably led by Will Straw and we have already built up a strong team, all of whom have the relevant experience.

Some come from a political background.

Will you draw on anything from the Scottish referendum?

My main take on the Scottish referendum is to make sure that we beat the drum early and regularly to inform on all the issues before the referendum.

Do you even contemplate failure?

Failure is not a word anyone likes to be associated with. I am confident that we will have the right outcome.

What really drives you? You’ve had so much success, why take on something so big?

I took on this role because I believe that big is better, that this is a hugely important event in our country’s history and that if I can make a small difference it will be worth the effort.

What type of ‘talent’ do you look for when recruiting senior level executives or team members?

All successful teams need motivated and self starting individuals.

Will Straw has put a very effective team together and they are hungry to succeed.

How do you describe your own management style?

I like clear planning, good organisation, and people who deliver results.

My style has always been to build teams that make for successful outcomes.

What three things best sum up the Stuart Rose business philosophy?

Focus, drive, passion

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