M&S shakes up management as sales slump

 
Kasmira Jefford
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MARKS & SPENCER announced a raft of management changes yesterday and confirmed that its head of general merchandise Kate Bostock is to leave, as the retail giant revealed its worst quarterly sales figures in years.

The company said Bostock will be leaving by mutual consent on 1 October and will be succeed by John Dixon, M&S’s head of food, who has played a key role in driving successful offerings like the dine-in-for-£10 offer.

Belinda Earl, former chief executive of Jaeger, Aquascutum and Debenhams, will also join as style director, working three days a week, in a move to revive its underperforming womenswear division.

Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, a former Estée Lauder executive, has been drafted in for the new role of corporate director of strategy implementation and business development.

The dramatic overhaul of its team came as M&S confirmed sales of clothing and homeware slumped 6.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the 13 weeks to 30 June, with food sales up 0.6 per cent. Overall like-for-like sales fell by 2.8 per cent.

Chief executive Marc Bolland blamed a tough trading season on a “basket of three things”, namely, a highly promotional market, shortage of stock on some of its clothing lines and miserable weather conditions.

The trading update coincided with the group’s annual general meeting, where shareholders bemoaned too many sleeveless dresses, loud music in stores, poor strategy and made reference to Marc Bolland as the “Bob Diamond of retail”. But the meeting stopped short of a shareholder spring, with over 95 per cent voting in favour of the pay report and the same number supporting Bolland’s re-election.

PROFILE: THE NEW MANAGEMENT TEAM

Belinda Earl
M&S has hired former Jaeger chief executive Belinda Earl for the newly created role of style director to boost its fashion credentials. Earl, who has spent 25 years working in retail, is best known for her role at Debenhams, where she was the UK’s youngest retail chief executive.

John Dixon
John Dixon, who has been running M&S’ food business since 2008, joined the retailer as a trainee in 1986, and was promoted to the board in 2009. He will replace Kate Bostock as head of general merchandise, tasked with reviving sales in the underperforming fashion division.

Steve Rowe
Steve Rowe joined M&S 23 years ago after jumping ship from Topshop. As director of retail, he runs the M&S UK store portfolio and played a key part in the group’s turnaround under Sir Stuart Rose, helping to improve customer experience. He will join the board as head of M&S Food.