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Exclusive: M&S to boost design team as it gears up for international growth

Marks & Spencer is on the hunt for a new head of international design as it gears up for growth overseas.

The new design head will cover markets including Russia, India, China and the Middle East,and the role will be particularly crucial to M&S international growth - with overseas stores “predominantly about clothing”, according to M&S chief executive Marc Bolland.

Bolland, presenting M&S’ full-year results this morning, said that retail space in international markets had increased around 12% over the year, helping generate a rise of 5.8% in international sales. M&S plans to have 10 international transactional websites in place by the end of this year, and will add 100 new stores a year by the second half of 2012/13.

The design team has already been bolstered by former Debenhams womenswear director Karen Peacock, who starts with M&S as head of design for footwear and accessories, Autograph, Classics and the Indigo Collection in July.

The retailer, which reported a 2% rise in clothing sales for the year to the end of March earlier this morning, said it had strengthened its design and merchandising functions to help grow its international business and reinvigorate its Per Una brand.

M&S executive director general merchandise Kate Bostock told Drapers that the two current heads of design “had been very stretched”, and while brands Indigo and Autograph had performed well over the last six months, Per Una “required attention”.

Bostock added: “Indigo has real personality and a point of difference, and customers are increasingly coming to M&S for Autograph. Lingerie has performed exceptionally well.”

Bostock said that the merchandising team, now headed up by general merchandise merchandising director Sasha Berendji, will focus on addressing stock availability and reaching markdown targets.

Marks & Spencer’s overall market share in clothing remains at 11.7%, according to Kantar figures.

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