M&S clothing boss quits following ‘troubled year’

The head of clothing and home at Marks & Spencer has quit after less than two years with the company.

Jill McDonald’s immediate departure means day-to-day running of the key division will be taken over by M&S chief executive Steve Rowe – a post he previously held prior to taking the top job.

Ms McDonald, who is a former chief executive of Halfords and boss of fast-food chain McDonald’s in the UK, has struggled to turn around the almost continuous decline of M&S’s clothing division.

At the company’s annual shareholder meeting earlier this week, Mr Rowe told investors it had been a “troubled year” for her division, pointing out how a jeans promotion in February failed when customers did not buy enough stock.

Jill McDonald quits M&S
Jill McDonald has left her role as M&S’s head of clothing and home (IHG/PA)

He said the problem meant M&S had “the worst availability in casual clothes I have ever seen in my life”.

On Thursday, he 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.

“She has recruited a talented team, improved the quality and style of product and set a clear direction for the business to attract a younger family age customer.

“The business now needs to move on at pace to address long-standing issues in our clothing and home supply chain around availability and flow of product. Given the importance of this task to M&S, I will be overseeing this programme directly.”

In the year to March 30, M&S revealed her division saw sales fall by 3.6% – or 1.6% on a like-for-like basis – with the company blaming “weak availability in Q4 as we sold out of fast-selling lines and experienced supply issues”.

At one point Ms McDonald was tipped as a potential successor to Mr Rowe.

At the time of her appointment, Mr Rowe said he had hired Ms McDonald for her “first-class customer knowledge and great experience in running dynamic, high-achieving teams”.

She remains a non-executive at Holiday Inn owner IHG.

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