Marks & Spencer appointed a new chairman yesterday to replace Paul Myners, who is to step down in 14 months.
Lord Burns, a former permanent secretary to the Treasury, will become deputy chairman in October and will then take the lead role in July next year.
The appointment was made after the company's senior independent director Kevin Lomax reportedly blocked moves to make Mr Myners a permanent chairman.
He had taken the role on an interim basis a year ago, as part of the group's response to the takeover interest of retail tycoon Philip Green.
While chief executive Stuart Rose was thought to be keen to continue working with Mr Myners, Mr Lomax is believed to have preferred an outside face.
Simon Proctor, an analyst at Charles Stanley stockbrokers, said the decision appeared to be a compromise between the two sides of the boardroom.
He added: "This is a bit of a side-show to the wider investment case, but at least it is a distraction that has been removed."
Tim Green, at Brewin Dolphin Securities, said: "The new appointment marks an end to the haggle over the post."
Mr Myners and Mr Rose mounted a successful defence against Mr Green's bid interest last year, although tough trading conditions have so far thwarted attempts to revive the retailer's business performance.
Lord Burns, who is also chairman of Abbey National and water company Glas Cymru, will be paid £175,000 as deputy chairman and then £400,000 as chairman. Both positions are part-time, non-executive roles.
Lord Burns said: "Marks & Spencer is a company with a great brand and a strong heritage. I am very pleased to be joining the board at this important time."