M&S sacks clothes boss

M&S sacks clothes boss

The chief executive of Marks & Spencer is to assume direct leadership of the British retailer’s troubled clothing business after sacking the division’s boss just two days after publicly criticising chronic product availability.

Jill McDonald, clothing, home and beauty managing director, is leaving the business after less than two years in the job, M&S said. Group CEO Steve Rowe will take over the leadership of the division directly in the near term, it added.

“The business now needs to move on at pace to address long-standing issues in our clothing and home supply chain around availability and flow of product,” said Mr Rowe.

“Given the importance of this task to M&S, I will be overseeing this programme directly,” he said.

Mr Rowe did praise Ms McDonald for strengthening the clothing management team, improving the quality and style of products and setting a clear direction for the business to attract a younger family age customer. But product availability remains a major problem for M&S, something Mr Rowe highlighted at Tuesday’s annual shareholders’ meeting.

He said a February promotion for jeans badly backfired when M&S failed to buy enough stock and sold out.

“That led to us having some of the worst availability in casual trousers I’ve seen in my life,” said Mr Rowe. Ms McDonald joined M&S in October 2017 to take on one of the biggest jobs in British fashion, having previously been the chief executive of bicycles and car parts company Halfords. Her appointment raised questions from some because she had no clothing retail experience.

After several failed relaunches over the past decade, the jury is out on whether the 135-year-old M&S can rise to the challenges posed by fast-fashion chains such as Zara and H&M in its clothing business.

M&S set out its latest turnaround plan shortly after retail veteran Archie Norman became chairman in September 2017 to work alongside Mr Rowe, who became CEO in 2016 and has been with the company three decades. In May M&S reported a third straight drop in annual profit in the 2018-2019 financial year, with clothing and home like-for-like sales down 1.6%.

Its shares are down 30% from a year ago.

Ms McDonald was a Mr Rowe hire. On appointment, he highlighted her “fantastic customer insight” and operational, retail and leadership experience developed at Halfords and fast-food giant McDonald’s.

- Reuters

More on this topic

Harrington makes credible case for third Claret JugHarrington makes credible case for third Claret Jug

Refs chief: Cynical fouls should earn a 20m free-inRefs chief: Cynical fouls should earn a 20m free-in

Henshaw gets opportunity to rediscover IrelandHenshaw gets opportunity to rediscover Ireland

Step away from the hosepipe: 6 tips to help your garden thrive through a dry summerStep away from the hosepipe: 6 tips to help your garden thrive through a dry summer

More in this Section

Ryanair to slash services on aircraft delays amid Boeing 737 crisisRyanair to slash services on aircraft delays amid Boeing 737 crisis

Bord na Móna staff in Longford 'feel that they're being stitched up'Bord na Móna staff in Longford 'feel that they're being stitched up'

Sports Direct results fiasco on House of Fraser falloutSports Direct results fiasco on House of Fraser fallout

Court will hear case of investors claiming €4m fraudCourt will hear case of investors claiming €4m fraud


Lifestyle

This year heralds the return of a much-maligned shade, pulled from the design doldrums and now paired with some unexpected complementary colours, materials and tone-on-tone activity, writes Carol O’Callaghan.Fifty shades of beige

Their romance took Laura Roset and Ken Mohally from Mallow to Moldova and back again.Wedding of the Week: Love spreads from Mallow to Moldova

Every day, I take my wife a cup of tea in bed. However, we sometimes make love in the mornings and she pauses to finish her cup before it goes cold.Sexual healing: Her long tea breaks cools the moment

As the Caped Crusader hits 80 years of protecting Gotham City, Chris Wasser looks at the history of the world’s darkest superhero.80 years on, Batman still packs a punch

More From The Irish Examiner