LONDON — Marks & Spencer plc has wooed Kate Bostock away from Asda’s growing George clothing label.
Britain’s largest clothing retailer Thursday named Bostock, product director of Asda’s George clothing and accessories brand, as director of its women’s wear.
Bostock will replace Steve Longdon, who is stepping down later this month, M&S said.
Together with Andy Bond, Asda’s managing director for George, Bostock helped build the brand into a global business with sales of approximately $1.77 billion, based on trend-driven, mass market clothing. The U.K.-developed brand was so successful that Asda’s parent, Wal-Mart, has rolled it out to its own stores worldwide, and Bond has predicted that George could one day be the world’s largest clothing brand.
Bostock also helped launch the first pilot stand-alone stores for George last fall in Croydon and Leeds. Two more pilot stores will open later this month in the U.K.
“Kate has outstanding retail flair and excellent all-round skills across design, buying and merchandising, as well as a strong appreciation of technology, product quality and sourcing,” said Vittorio Radice, board director for general merchandise at M&S in a statement. “She also brings unrivaled experience in large-scale retailing.”
Bostock won’t be the first member of the George team to defect to M&S: George Davies, who founded the George line at Asda, now designs the Per Una and Per Una Due lines at M&S under a supply contract.
“I have always admired what Marks & Spencer stands for, particularly its focus on product quality. With this new role, I will have the opportunity to help build one of the most compelling women’s wear offers on the high street,” she said in a statement.
Although Longdon will leave M&S at the end of May, a spokeswoman for the company said a start date for Bostock has not been confirmed.
“This is great news for M&S. Kate is hands-on and I’m sure she’ll be applying her skills to every point in the supply chain,” said Richard Fitzpatrick, managing director of Retailmap, a U.K. fashion research consultancy.
Bostock joined Asda in the summer of 2001. Previously, she was product director for children’s wear at Next, another major U.K. clothing retailer.
Industry sources close to the supermarket retailer said it’s not clear whether Asda will replace Bostock.
“George has a very strong in-house design team, and it’s unclear whether there will be someone to take over her specific position,” said a source, who asked not to be named.
Meanwhile, Radice has made new management appointments in the general merchandise division, all of whom come from in-house. Jack Paterson will move to the newly created position of director of home, Matt Hudson will become director of lingerie and beauty and Andrew Skinner will become director of men’s wear. All will take up their roles this month.