Marks & Spencer Makes Exec Moves in Wake of Softening Sales

Retailer sets management changes to improve performance of general merchandise.

Exterior view of a Marks & Spencer store

Marks and Spencer Group plc is taking action.

This story first appeared in the July 11, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

After reporting a 0.7 percent drop in group sales, and an even more downbeat performance in the general merchandise category Tuesday, the firm’s chief executive officer Marc Bolland outlined a number of changes in the executive ranks.

Kate Bostock, executive director of general merchandise, is to leave M&S “by mutual consent,” the company said. She will step down from M&S’ board and leave the firm Oct. 1.

John Dixon, most recently executive director of food at M&S, will take on the role of executive director of general merchandise as of Oct. 1. In addition, as of Sept. 1, Belinda Earl, the former ceo of Jaeger and Aquascutum, will join M&S as style director, a new role at the company, on a two- to three-day-a-week basis. Bolland said on a conference call Tuesday that Dixon and Earl are a “magic combination.” “It’s [pairing] someone who’s very well known to the company and a very strong manager with someone who is best in class in the U.K. in terms of style,” he said.

Meanwhile, Steve Rowe, currently director of retail at M&S, has been appointed executive director of food at the company, and will join its board as of Oct. 1.

Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, previously a group president at the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., will join M&S in the new role of corporate director of strategy implementation and business development, effective Sept. 1. Bousquet-Chavanne had most recently been advising the M&S team on the development of its new beauty concept, and his role will involve “developing strategic initiatives and new concepts across the company,” M&S said.

Bolland said: “I am confident that this strengthened team of internal and best-in-class experts will blend well together to deliver our strategy of building M&S into a leading international multichannel retailer.”