Marks and Spencer today (10 July) confirmed that general merchandise executive director Kate Bostock will leave the company “by mutual consent” as first quarter general merchandise sales plunged.
The announcement follows months of speculation that Bostock was looking to leave the retailer. She will be replaced by John Dixon, who was most recently executive director of food.
Former Debenhams, Jaeger and Aquascutum CEO Belinda Earl will be appointed in the newly created role of style director, where she will focus on product for two-to-three days a week.
“I would like to thank Kate for the significant contribution she has made to the company. We are both agreed that this is the right time for her to be moving on from Marks and Spencer and we wish her every success in the future,” said chief executive Marc Bolland.
The announcements came as Marks and Spencer recorded a 0.7% decline in sales, at local currencies, for the quarter ended 30 June. Total UK sales declined 0.9%, with general merchandise recording a 5.1% sales fall. Like-for-like sales were down 2.8% overall, declining 6.8% for general merchandise.
The company said clothing sales continued to be impacted by the merchandising issues in its spring/summer collections reported in April. It emphasised that it has taken steps to strengthen the team, improve buying and merchandising and bring stock back on target for the autumn/winter season, which launches later this month.
“The clothing market continued to be highly promotional throughout the quarter, especially in womenswear, in part due to unseasonal weather conditions. This affected categories such as casual tops, which, given our high market share, are key performance drivers at this time of year,” the company said.
The retailer admitted that the clothing market continued to be highly promotional throughout the quarter, in part due to unseasonable weather conditions, which affected sales of categories like casual tops and linen, which are key categories at this time of year.
The company also announced the appointment of Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne as corporate director of strategy and business development. He was previously a group president at The Estee Lauder Companies. He has been advising M&S on the development of the M&S YourBeauty concept.