Marks & Spencer has poached Steinhoff UK’s group chief executive Stuart Machin to take on the newly-created role of food managing director to help overhaul the retailer’s food arm as part of its transformation plan.
Machin will join M&S in late April and will have overall profit and loss accountability for all aspects of the M&S food division.
He will report into M&S chief executive Steve Rowe, and work closely alongside clothing and home managing director Jill McDonald.
As a result of Machin’s appointment, Andy Adcock, who currently holds the director of food post, will leave M&S at the end of April after nine years with the business.
Machin’s appointment also comes after M&S recently hired grocery supply chain guru Lawrence Christensen to work as part-time independent adviser, focusing on the retailer’s food retail arm on how to best transport food from supplier to store.
Part of Rowe’s transformation plan for M&S is to arrest a slump in trade in its food retail division, which was once star of the business.
Sales in food grew 4.4 per cent in the 26 weeks to September 30, but like-for-likes slipped 0.1 per cent.
The recent slowdown prompted M&S to open fewer new Simply Food stores.
“We face challenges in our food business and we have lots to do to change, fast,” Rowe said.
“Stuart is an excellent addition to our team. He gets food retailing and he has first class experience of driving change in big food retailers.
“At M&S we need to sharpen our prices, improve our products, drive profitability and grow market share – Stuart is the right leader to get on and deliver these changes.”
Machin has over 30 years of experience leading and executing retail transformation in both the UK and in Australia.
M&S said he was both an established food expert and has also “driven radical change programmes” in non-food.
Prior to joining Steinhoff, Machin was chief executive of value retail chain Target Australia for three years.
Before that, he was the chief operating officer of Coles, one of Australia’s two big supermarket chains.
His food retail career also includes stints at Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
“My heart lies in food retail and I am excited to bring my passion for dynamic, customer-led Food retailing to M&S,” Machin said.
“The business has many reasons to be proud of its food offer but there are also opportunities and lots to deliver under the transformation plan that Steve has laid out. I am looking forward to joining the team.”
On arrival, Machin will be working closely with newly appointed food marketing director Sharry Cramond who is transforming M&S Food marketing focused on improving customer perceptions on price and provenance.
M&S said Machin’s appointment further strengthens the top team, which includes McDonald and chief financial officer designate Humphrey Singer, who will join the retailer later this year.
Rowe’s overall transformation strategy – initially announced in November 2016 and accelerated when retail veteran Archie Norman joined as chairman a year later – includes plans to reposition around 25 per cent of M&S clothing and home space through a combination of closures, downsizes, relocations and conversions to food-only stores.