// M&S hires Ben Witmann to take on head of visual merchandising role
// He will join in August and will report to incoming clothing & home director Anna Braithwaite
// The news comes shortly after M&S reshuffled its executive committee as it moves on to the next phase of its turnaround scheme
Marks & Spencer has hired a new head of visual merchandising two days after it reshuffled its executive committee as part of the next phase in its Never The Same Again turnaround scheme.
M&S said Ben Witmann, who is currently senior director of omnichannel marketing and visual merchandising for Gap Europe, will step in to his new role in August.
As head of visual merchandising, his remit will be to develop a “world class visual customer experience” in partnership with store design and brand marketing.
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He will report to Anna Braithwaite, who will be joining M&S as clothing and home marketing director next month.
Her appointment was first revealed in February, shortly after M&S bought Jaeger out of administration from Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group.
The heads of insight, planning, brand and PR will also report to Braithwaite when she joins the high street stalwart.
“Our Never the Same Again programme is about being more relevant, more often to our customers, and to support these efforts we’re excited to have great new talent joining our team including our new director of clothing and home marketing Anna Braithwaite, who will now start in June, and Ben Wittmann who will join as head of store experience,” an M&S spokesperson said.
“Ben brings great expertise from working around the world with Gap and will lead how we visually present ourselves to our customers – showing up with energy, confidence and style.”
The news comes less than a week after M&S announced a major reshuffle of its senior executive leadership team as it moved on to the second phase of the Never The Same Again transformation scheme.
Current chief strategy and transformation director Katie Bickerstaffe and M&S Food managing director Stuart Machin were both promoted to co-chief operating officers.
M&S said Machin would continue as managing director of its food arm, but also take oversight responsibility for operations, property, store development and IT.
Bickerstaffe will give oversight to M&S’s data, services, clothing & home and international businesses.
Meanwhile, Eoin Tonge will take on strategy and transformation planning as part of his remit as chief financial officer.
Sacha Berendji will move from his current retail, operations and property director role to focus on “Future Stores” and accelerate the development of M&S’s 10X digital stores, store renewal, store rotation and IT.
Richard Price and Paul Friston remain as managing directors of M&S’s clothing & home and international arms, respectively.
The first phase of the turnaround scheme was known as “Fixing the Basics”, which featured a raft of changes – such as closing down some clothing & home stores and shifting its focus to digital investment and food.
M&S said the realignment of the executive team meant the business was moving on the next phase “to reinvest in the brand and restore growth”.