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M&Co appoints buying and merchandising directors

Value chain M&Co has appointed Simon Dawes and Sue Swannie as merchandising director and buying director respectively.

They replace merchandising director Andrew Austin and buying director Lindsay Williams, who left in February for unknown reasons.

It is the latest in a string of mangement changes at the chain, including a new chief executive, chairman and ecommerce director.

Swannie joined the Scottish retailer last week, Drapers understands. She was previously buying director at Peacocks, a role she took up in December 2011.

This will be her second stint as buying director at M&Co. She held the role between 1998 and 2005, before leaving to become global brand director for George at Asda.

She left George to join Monsoon Accessorize as brand director in 2007 and went on to Shop Direct in 2009, where she was buying and design director for two years before joining Peacocks. Swannie will join the M&Co board.

Dawes will join M&Co from his role as merchandising director at Cath Kidston, which has 225 stores worldwide, including 85 in the UK, in December.

He started out at Marks & Spencer in 1987, where he worked across various roles, culminating in buying assistant, before leaving to become head of buying and merchandise at Action Performance, a clothing firm and F1 team license holder, in 1996.

In 2000 he became European head of planning for Calvin Klein underwear at licensee group Warnaco, before leaving to become John Lewis’ first head of merchandising in 2004. He was later promoted to head of merchandise and selection, as well as head of sample management and photo studio within John Lewis Online.

He joined Cath Kidston in 2011 and is currently on the operating board of the lifestyle retailer, but in his new role he will sit on M&Co’s main board.

The appointments follow the announcement last month that chief executive and chairman Iain McGeoch has retired after 50 years at the business.

His son, Andy McGeoch, who has worked at M&Co since 2004 as marketing and business development director, has stepped up as chief executive. Former BHS and Burton manager Steve Knott has been appointed chairman.

Also in September, Shop Direct’s group merchandising director, Pauline Lauder, joined M&Co as ecommerce and marketing director. Melanie Buckingham joined as head of buying from BHS in March.

M&Co has around 300 stores. Its turnover rose 1% to £160.4m in the year to February 20, with EBITDA down to £2.2m from £7.2m.

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