Born to a car parts factory owner in the prosperous Dutch city of Apeldoorn in 1959, Marc Bolland studied business at the University of Groningen before joining Heineken as a management trainee in 1987.

He stayed with the Dutch brewer for the next 20 years, working his way up the ranks in a variety of roles, including brand manager, commercial director, general manager of a Slovakian division and finally chief operating officer.

In 2005, Mr Bolland missed out on Heineken’s top job, when Jean-Francois van Boxmeer edged past him to become the new chief executive.

That gave Mr Bolland the impetus to move and he joined Wm Morrison in June 2006. The appointment caused some bemusement in the City, with one senior retailer admitting he had “never heard of him”.

However Mr Bolland soon made his mark, embracing the challenge of reviving the Bradford-based supermarket chain after its bungled £3.35bn integration of Safeway. He lifted sales with a focus on fresh food, new, more upmarket products and cutting costs.

Attuning himself to the company and its northern roots, Mr Bolland decided to support Leeds United while remaining a staunch Ajax fan. He enjoyed fish and chip lunches with Sir Ken Morrison in the canteen and even attempted Yorkshire dialect in his first analyst presentation.

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