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Marks & Spencer has appointed the current chief executive of Halfords to lead its efforts to revive its clothing business, in a reshuffle that will see chief executive Steve Rowe relinquish direct responsibility for the company’s non-food businesses.

Jill McDonald, who has led Halfords since 2015, will join M&S in the autumn as managing director for clothing, home and beauty.

M&S is still Britain’s biggest clothing retailer, but sales have slumped in recent years as it has struggled to keep up with rivals such as Primark and H&M. Mr Rowe has been working to return the business to growth, reporting the first quarterly increase in sales for two years in the fourth quarter of last year.

Ms McDonald will now take responsibility for those efforts. M&S said she “will have overall profit and loss accountability for all aspects of the M&S non-food business, from design and sourcing through to supply chain and logistics”.

Currently, responsibility for the division is split between Mr Rowe and chief financial officer Helen Weir. M&S’ current director of womenswear, lingerie and beauty, Jo Jenkins, will also move to an expanded role as clothing and beauty director, reporting to Ms McDonald.

Mr Rowe said:

I am pleased with the progress we have made in clothing and home over the last year and the time is now right for this appointment.

Jill is an excellent addition to the M&S senior leadership team and we are delighted that she is joining us. Jill’s first-class customer knowledge and great experience in running dynamic, high achieving teams makes her exactly the right person to lead this all-important part of our business from recovery in to growth.

Ms McDonald said:

M&S has a unique, special relationship with its customers and I am very motivated by working closely with customers to drive and shape results. I have long been an M&S customer and professional fan, so working with the brand was a career opportunity that I just couldn’t turn down.

Photo: PA

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