May 3, 2017 / 2:07 PM / in 3 months

Executives who have tried to mend M&S clothing business

3 Min Read

(Reuters) - Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) said on Wednesday it had hired Halfords' boss Jill McDonald to head its clothing division, appointing an executive with no experience in fashion to run its most troubled division.

M&S was once the go-to destination on the British high street for clothes, selling everything from school uniforms to underwear and first interview suits.

But the retailer has been squeezed in recent years by the arrival of fast, cheap fashion at one end of the market and more affordable luxury at the other.

It has invested heavily in recent years to improve its supply chain logistics, products, stores and website, helping it to enjoy a strong Christmas in 2016.

Following is a list of people who have sought to turn around M&S's clothing and homewares business over the past decade or so and how they got on.

Kate Bostock (March 10, 2008)

- Named executive director of clothing as part of an overhaul of the company's management

- Had been with M&S for about four years after previously holding senior roles at fashion retailer Next and the George clothing division at Asda.

- Left in 2012 as M&S' general merchandise division posted its biggest quarterly sales drop for 3-1/2 years partly due to stock management issues that left its stores short of best selling womenswear lines

- Division's annual revenue at beginning and end of the tenure: 4.6 billion pounds and 4.2 billion pounds respectively

Belinda Earl (September 1, 2012)

- Named Style Director in a newly-created part-time role, reporting to the head of general merchandise

- Previously ran retailers Debenhams, Aquascutum and Jaeger

- M&S has since enjoyed some rave reviews for specific items such as a 70s style suede skirt and a pink coat. She remains in the role.

John Dixon (Oct 1, 2012)

- Named executive director, general merchandise

- A company veteran of 26 years and previously executive director, food.

- After helping pioneer M&S's successful Dine-in-for-10 pounds food line, Dixon was moved to revive growth at the company's merchandise business. He left suddenly in 2015 and took up a role in Australia.

- Division's annual revenue at beginning and end of the tenure: 4.2 billion pounds and 4 billion pounds respectively

Steve Rowe (July 16, 2015)

- Appointed executive director, general merchandise

- Had also worked with M&S for over 26 years and he too was previously executive director of food

- During his tenure, M&S' clothing division reported an increase in quarterly sales for the first time in nearly two years at the end of 2016, helping the 133-year-old company to soundly beat forecasts for Christmas trading. Rowe warned however that there was a lot more to do

- He relinquished the role to McDonald on Wednesday

- Division's annual revenue at beginning and end of the tenure: 4 billion pounds and 3.9 billion pounds respectively, with the division now renamed Clothing and Home

Reporting by Rahul B and Esha Vaish in Bengaluru; Editing by Keith Weir

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