March 22, 2018 / 3:41 PM / 4 months ago

M&S replaces boss in flagging food business

LONDON (Reuters) - British retailer Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) said on Thursday it was replacing food boss Andy Adcock with an executive from Steinhoff (SNHJ.J), the troubled South African retailer, seeking to get the business back on track after a year of underperformance.

FILE PHOTO: A sign is seen on the exterior of a branch of Marks and Spencer in central London, Britain, November 3, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

M&S said director of food Adcock, who has been with the retailer for nine years, would leave at the end of April.

He will be succeeded by Stuart Machin, who will take the new title of food managing director. Machin is currently the group CEO of Steinhoff UK, which owns furniture retail brands.

M&S’s food business, which is focused at the premium end of the market, has reported four straight quarters of like-for-like sales decline - the latest in the key Christmas quarter.

The group re-set its strategy in November, two months after retail veteran Archie Norman joined as chairman. It said it would re-position its food offer and slow down openings of standalone Simply Food stores.

“We face challenges in our food business and we have lots to do to change, fast,” said M&S Chief Executive Steve Rowe.

“We need to sharpen our prices, improve our products, drive profitability and grow market share.”

Rowe said Machin “gets food retailing and he has first-class experience of driving change in big food retailers.”

A 30-year veteran of the retail sector, Machin has also worked for Target Australia, Coles Supermarkets Australia, Walmart’s Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

At M&S, Machin will have “overall P&L accountability” for all aspects of the M&S Food business and will work closely alongside clothing & home MD, Jill McDonald, who joined last October.

The food management revamp is the latest in a raft of new year announcements from M&S. It has already detailed changes to its technology function, clothing and home logistics and food marketing.

Shares in M&S, down 18 percent over the last year, were down 1.6 percent at 1449 GMT.

(This version of the story removes reference to Poundland.)

Reporting by James Davey; editing by Sarah Young and Stephen Addison

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