Belfast Telegraph

M&S clothes chief leaves retailer after "troubled year" for her division

Struggles: Jill McDonald
Struggles: Jill McDonald

By Simon Neville

The head of clothing and home at Marks & Spencer has quit after less than two years with the company.

Jill McDonald's immediate departure means day-to-day running of the key division will be taken over by M&S chief executive Steve Rowe, who held the post prior to taking the top job.

Ms McDonald, a former chief executive of Halfords and boss of fast-food chain McDonald's in the UK, struggled to turn around the decline of M&S's clothing section.

At the company's annual shareholder meeting earlier this week, Mr Rowe told investors it had been a "troubled year" for her division, pointing out how a jeans promotion in February failed when the company did not buy enough stock.

He stressed the problem meant M&S had "the worst availability in casual clothes I have ever seen in my life".

Mr Rowe said yesterday: "Jill was brought in to establish a strong platform for the transformation of the clothing and home business.

"She has achieved that. She leaves with my thanks and good wishes for the future.

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"She has recruited a talented team, improved the quality and style of product and set a clear direction for the business to attract a younger family age customer.

"The business needs to move on at pace to address long-standing issues in the clothing and home supply chain around availability and flow of product.

"Given the importance of this task to M&S, I will be overseeing this programme directly."

In the year to March 30, sales in Ms McDonald's division fell by 3.6% - or 1.6% on a like-for-like basis.

The company blamed "weak availability in quarter four as we sold out of fast-selling lines and experienced supply issues".

At one point Ms McDonald was tipped as a potential successor to Mr Rowe. At the time of her appointment, Mr Rowe said he had hired her for her "first-class customer knowledge".

Belfast Telegraph