Marks & Spencer ousts fashion boss Jill McDonald

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Marks & Spencer has ousted its clothing and home boss, Jill McDonald, who spent two years attempting to turn around the struggling division.

Chief executive Steve Rowe will take over from Ms McDonald in the short term.

He said the firm needed to “address long-standing issues in our clothing and home supply chain around availability and flow of product”.

Ms McDonald had previous roles at Halfords and McDonald’s.

“Her lack of skill in clothes buying and supply chain appears to be the problem. But then the problem existed before she joined, didn’t it?” Global Data retail analyst Maureen Hinton tweeted.

Ms McDonald joined the company in autumn 2017.

Jill McDonald’s appointment came as a surprise.

The former boss of Halfords had been parachuted into one of the trickiest jobs in retail with no fashion experience.

We were told she’d been hired for her “first-class customer knowledge” and experience in running high-achieving teams. In the end, that wasn’t enough.

Marks & Spencer still hasn’t fixed the basics when it comes to its all-important clothing business.

Availability, for instance, is still a big issue. It’s clear she hasn’t been able to move quickly enough to tackle its long-running problems.

Now chief executive Steve Rowe has taken direct control of this division again until a successor can be found.

This week, at the firm’s annual general meeting, Mr Rowe said there had been some major failures in clothing, including not buying enough jeans for a February promotion.

“That led to us having some of the worst availability in casual trousers I’ve seen in my life,” he said.

However, he also said clothing ranges had improved in terms of fit, style and value.

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