LONDON — Day-to-day operations at Marks and Spencer are changing at a rapid-fire pace, and there are still two weeks to go before the new chief executive officer Steve Rowe officially lays out his strategy for the company.
On Thursday, the British retailer trumpeted a series of changes aimed at simplifying its management structure in order to drive “speedier decision-making” and move the business “closer to its customers,” a phrase that’s quickly becoming a Rowe mantra.
“On my first day as ceo, I committed to putting M&S customers at the heart of everything we do,” Rowe said. “These changes reflect this: A simpler management structure with a smaller, more focused team running M&S will lead to more efficient decision-making and move us closer to our customers.”
He made some changes to the responsibilities of the executive directors, with Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne becoming executive director of customer, marketing and marksandspencer.com.
Bousquet-Chavanne assumes new responsibilities for marksandspencer.com and Plan A, the retailer’s environmental sustainability strategy. The international business will now report directly to Rowe.
Helen Weir, chief finance officer, will assume responsibility for strategy implementation, while Laura Wade-Gery will remain on maternity leave until September. The company said it would update her about her new responsibilities on her return.
Five directors have left as a result of the reorganization, and their responsibilities have been re-distributed to colleagues within the company.
M&S also said it’s establishing a new operating committee that will be accountable for the day-to-day running of the business, as well as for the development and execution of strategy.
On the operating committee, the executive directors will be joined by the directors of food; women’s wear; lingerie and beauty; retail; international; communications and investor relations; human resources; the group secretary, and head of corporate governance.
“The new operating committee will be working together to improve M&S, starting with fixing our clothing and home offer for our customers, our employees and our shareholders,” said Rowe, who is set to lay down his strategy when the company reveals its year-end results on May 25.
Earlier this week, the British retailer unveiled its first see-now-buy-now fashion collection that launched simultaneously at the fall 2016 press day, in 26 stores and online. Called The Big Easy, it features 24 trans-seasonal pieces that are designed to be layered. They come in fabrics including cotton denim and knit, leather and suede and crepe viscose.
Rowe is working to turn the struggling M&S ship around as fast as he can.
As reported, fourth-quarter group sales were up 1.9 percent, boosted by a 4 percent gain in the food division. Sales were flat on a like-for-like basis. The clothing and home division continued to struggle, falling 1.9 percent in the three months to March 26, and 2.7 percent on an underlying basis.
The store plans to reveal full results, including profit figures, on May 25.