Wednesday, 3 May 2017

M&S poaches Halfords boss Jill McDonald to become new clothing chief

Marks and Spencer has poached Halfords chief executive Jill McDonald to head up its clothing, home and beauty division.
She will take on the role in the autumn after two years at Halfords, having previously been the UK boss of McDonald's.

Marks & Spencer has struggled to improve the performance of its non-food sales in recent years and will now hand responsibility for all aspects of the division from design and sourcing to supply chain and logistics to Ms McDonald.

It is the latest change being made by Steve Rowe, a year into his tenure as M&S chief executive.

He has already announced a series of store closures and last week revealed plans for a trial of online food sales.

Mr Rowe said: "I am pleased with the progress we have made in Clothing & Home over the last year and the time is now right for this appointment.

"Jill's first-class customer knowledge and great experience in running dynamic, high-achieving teams make her exactly the right person to lead this all-important part of our business from recovery to growth."

Ms McDonald said: "I have long been an M&S customer and professional fan, so working with the brand was a career opportunity that I just couldn't turn down."
The move will see her take over the responsibility of running of the clothing division from Mr Rowe, who has remained in charge of the operation since his promotion to the top job in April last year.

M&S was given a boost earlier this year when it reported like-for-like sales in its clothing and home division rose 2.3% in the 13 weeks to December 31 - the first growth since the January to March quarter in 2015.

However, Mr Rowe has stressed that there was more work to do in its efforts to revive clothing sales and suggested the quarterly rise may not mark a return to sustained sales growth.

M&S shares were about 1% lower in early trading.

Halfords, which reports annual results later this month, said Ms McDonald would remain chief executive until the end of her notice period in October. Its shares fell 3%.

Chairman Dennis Millard said: "We are grateful to Jill for the positive impact she has made across the business."

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