Not just any appointment: M&S poaches the Halfords chief executive to run its struggling clothing arm

Jill McDonald, formerly chief executive of Halfords, has been put in charge of M&S’s struggling clothing division

Marks & Spencer has poached the chief executive of Halfords and put her in charge of shoring up its embattled clothing arm.

The high street store said Jill McDonald had been recruited into the new role of managing director for clothing, home and beauty, joining the retailer in the autumn of this year.

Ms McDonald has previously worked at Colgate Palmolive and British Airways, where she became head of global marketing, before joining McDonald’s in 2006.

She became UK chief executive for the fast food chain in 2010 – overseeing 3,300 restaurants in seven countries.

The 52-year-old, who is mother to two teenage boys, was then made chief executive of Halfords in May 2015.

The latest move will see Ms McDonald take over the responsibility of running of M&S’s clothing division from chief executive Steve Rowe.

He has remained in charge of the operation since his promotion to the top job in April last year, but will now focus on the overall group.

Ms McDonald was formerly president for north west Europe for McDonald’s before taking the top role at Halfords in 2015

M&S was given a boost at the start of the year when like-for-like sales in its clothing and home division rose 2.3% in the 13 weeks to December 31 – the first growth since the January to March quarter in 2015.

However, Mr Rowe stressed at the beginning of 2017 that there was more work to do in its efforts to revive clothing sales and suggested the quarterly rise may not mark a return to sustained sales growth.

Speaking about Ms McDonald’s appointment, Mr Rowe said: ‘I am pleased with the progress we have made in Clothing & 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 make her exactly the right person to lead this all-important part of our business from recovery in to growth.’

Chief executive Steve Rowe, formerly in charge of clothing, will look after the overall group Ms McDonald told of the difficulties of juggling work and family while she was McDonald’s head of north-west Europe

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