M&S in seismic clothing & home leadership shake-up

M&S said Monday it was shaking-up its clothing & home leadership team, which means some big names are out. Queralt Ferrer, its womenswear & lingerie design director, Michael Kerr, its menswear & kidswear director, and ex-Debenhams/ex-Jaeger chief Belinda Earl, its style director, are all stepping down from their roles.



The moves follow Jill McDonald, the former Halfords boss, being named last autumn as its clothing & home managing director.

She has now merged the retailer's womenswear and kidswear teams and named Jill Stanton to the completely new role of womenswear and kidswear director.

Stanton, who has worked at retailer Next and major UK supplier Dewhirst, as well as Nike and Old Navy, will start in July. And she’ll be joined by Wes Taylor (who was MD of Arcadia-owned menswear specialist Burton for 11 years) as the firm’s new menswear director. He starts in May.

The aim is to make the team (and its offer) “more relevant” to a wider group of consumers and comes after the company has already seen plenty of change this year.

Earl, for instance, was asked to run the company’s womenswear and beauty units on an interim basis only in January. Not that she’s cutting ties with M&S now that she’s stepping back. The retailer said the hugely experienced executive would "continue to work in an advisory role and sit on the board". 

McDonald said: “M&S Clothing is transforming. We’re crystal clear on the challenge. We must become more relevant to more people offering the right products at the right prices to appeal to our core customers and attract new ones.”

M&S has been through so many changes in the last two decades as it has fought hard to retain or regain its pre-eminent position in UK retail, but it has faced both advances and setbacks on the way.

Under CEO Steve Rowe - an M&S veteran who has experienced all the turnaround plans - there appears to be a determination to make it work and not to fight shy of making difficult decisions.

The company is currently still near the start of his five-year transformation plan that will see store closures, stores being refocused onto key product categories and other changes.

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