Update: Jill McDonald's departure has now been confirmed by M&S
The head of Marks & Spencer’s clothing, home and beauty business is to depart with responsibilities for the ailing division to now fall on group chief executive Steve Rowe.
Reports emerged on early Thursday (11 July) that Jill McDonald was poised to depart, threatening to throw the division into fresh turmoil as it seeks to turn the ailing unit around.
M&S confirmed her exit later that day.
“Jill was brought in to establish a strong platform for the transformation of the clothing and home business... 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," said Rowe.
“The business now needs to move on at pace to address longstanding 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.”
Rowe had hand-picked the former fast-food marketer to head up its own non-food business in 2017, heralding her success at leading similar revamps at Halfords and McDonald’s.
It had been reported that McDonald had become increasingly disaffected by M&S’s bureaucracy and intricate network of suppliers, which hindered reform.
Last May, M&S was hit by the departure of its top marketer Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, whose wider brand and corporate branding remit subsequently passed onto McDonald and Stuart Machin – head of its successful food division.
The retailer has struggled to gain traction at its clothing and home department with revenues falling 3.6% and like-for-like sales dipping 1.6% in its latest full-year results announced in May.