Marks & Spencer has poached Halfords chief executive Jill McDonald to be its new managing director of clothing, home and beauty.
Stepping into a brand new role, McDonald will be responsible for the overall profit and loss accountability in all aspects of M&S’s non-food arm, a division of the business which has been struggling in recent years while its food division continues to boom.
Although an exact start date has not yet been confirmed, she will join M&S in the autumn and will report directly to chief executive Steve Rowe.
McDonald will also be part of the department store chain’s operating committee, the team accountable for the day-to-day running of the business and the development and execution of strategy.
Up until now, Rowe had been responsible for clothing, home and beauty at M&S and he will relinquish this part of his duties as chief executive once McDonald starts.
Chief financial officer Helen Weir will also hand over responsibility for the clothing, home and beauty supply chain and logistics.
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In addition, Jo Jenkins will move to the new role of clothing and beauty director, reporting into McDonald, and with expanded accountabilities for all clothing across womenswear, menswear and childrenswear.
“I am pleased with the progress we have made in clothing and home over the last year and the time is now right for this appointment,” Rowe said.
“Jill is an excellent addition to the M&S senior leadership team and we are delighted that she is joining us.
“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 in to growth.”
McDonald said: “M&S has a unique, special relationship with its customers and I am very motivated by working closely with customers to drive and shape results.
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“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. I am looking forward to joining Steve and the team later this year to build on the plans that are already underway.”
The news comes as M&S powers on with a review of its store estate.
Last month it revealed plans to shut down six stores while opening 36 brand new ones over the next six months, 34 of which will be food-only stores plus two clothing, home and food stores.
The store estate review is part of previously-announced plans to open 200 new food-only stores and sell clothing and homewares from 60 fewer locations after years of stagnation at its general merchandise division.
M&S also revealed plans to branch out to online grocery delivery, with speculation mounting that it is set to begin talks to Ocado ahead of a trial period.