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Non-jew Heads Marks and Spencer

June 27, 1984
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Marks and Spencer, Britain’s largest retail chain whose commercial involvement with Jewish Palestine began more than a half century ago and is today a major importer of Israeli products, is undergoing a change of leadership.

Lord Sieff, a leading supporter of Israel will hand over the chairmanship this week to Lord Rayner, the first non-Jew to head the chain since its beginnings 90 years ago as a stall in the marketplace in Leeds. Sieff, who will stay on as president, assured the press today that the company’s involvement with Israel will continue as dynamically as in the past.

Lord Rayner attended the economic conference in Jerusalem last month and knows Israel well, Sieff said in an interview with the Journal of the British Chamber of Commerce. “He will continue our close affiliation with Israel, though of course bringing his own, new ideas to bear,” the Jewish peer declared.

Marks and Spencer currently has an annual turnover of 2.8 billion Pounds Sterling. Sieff disclosed that its business with Israel is worth about 75 million Pounds Sterling and is expected to grow by 17-18 percent this year. That means that almost a third of Israel’s exports to Britain are purchased by this single company.

Sieff said he expected improvements in Israel’s balance of payments. “They now have to export more because the demand of their home market has been substantially reduced. There are therefore better prospects of profitable exports than there were nine months ago.”

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