M&S clothing boss Jill McDonald exits having served less than two years after failing to iron out stock issues
- Group boss Steve Rowe to take control of clothing and home again
- Jill McDonald was drafted in from Halfords less than two years ago
- The firm is still struggling with issues in its fashion and home supply chain
M&S clothing and home boss Jill McDonald (above) joined the firm from Halfords in 2017
Marks & Spencer’s managing director of clothing and home Jill McDonald has left the business having served less than two years in the role after failing to revitalise its flagging fashion department.
Steve Rowe – the firm’s chief executive – will resume the day-to-day running of the division himself in efforts to directly address ‘long-standing issues’ in the firm’s supply chain ‘around availability and flow of product’.
‘Given the importance of this task to M&S I will be overseeing this programme directly,’ Rowe said in a statement.
M&S has been criticised for not holding enough stock of its most-popular fashion ranges – such as the best sellers modelled by Holly Willoughby.
Earlier this week, at the company’s AGM, Rowe went as far as to say it had been a ‘troubled year’ at the firm’s fashion division, with ongoing buying issues leaving M&S on one recent occasion with ‘the worst availability in casual clothes I have ever seen in my life’.
McDonald’s appointment in October 2017 raised eyebrows in the City given her lack of experience in the fashion sector.
She was poached from Halfords where she was chief executive, and prior to that she spent nearly ten years at fast-food chain McDonalds.
In the last full-year, and on McDonald’s watch, sales at the clothing and home division slid by 3.6 per cent.
Today, Rowe said: ‘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.’
All change: M&S is part-way through a five-year overhaul that includes some store closures
He credited the outgoing head of department with recruiting a ‘talented team’, improving the quality and style of product and helping to attract a ‘younger family age customer’.
M&S is part-way through a radical five-year overhaul aimed at dragging the firm into the 21st century and making it fit for the future.
The plan involves the closure of more than 100 outdated and under-performing stores and a partnership with Ocado that will enable home delivery of M&S food for the first time.
M&S shares are currently trading at levels not seen since the financial crisis ten years ago after the group tapped investors to fund the Ocado tie-up.