Marks & Spencer clothing chief stands down

Jill McDonald

Marks & Spencer’s clothing chief Jill McDonald after failing to turn around its struggling clothing business. CEO Steve Rowe will now assume responsibility for Clothing & Home.

Her resignation comes after the retailer’s AGM on Wednesday, when Rowe admitted to issues with fashion product availability saying M&S had sold out of some of its most popular styles of jeans after a promotion and he had witnessed “some of the worst availability [in casual clothes] I’d seen in 30 years”.

While design had improved, he said there were still issues within fashion buying, Rowe said.

McDonald joined M&S from Halfords, where she had been CEO, in October 2017. She took over as managing director for Clothing & Home from Steve Rowe following his promotion to CEO. She was a surprise choice for the role, given her lack of fashion industry experience. Before Halfords she had been with McDonald’s for 10 years and before that British Airways and Colgate-Palmolive.

Rowe said in a statement: “Jill was brought in to establish a strong platform for the transformation of the Clothing and Home business. She has achieved that; she leaves with my thanks and good wishes for the future. 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. The business now needs to move on at pace to address long-standing 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.”