Marks & Spencer is actively recruiting for a new clothing and home boss, Drapers understands.
Steve Rowe retained responsibility for clothing and home when he was promoted from executive director of general merchandise to chief executive in April.
Last month, at the retailer’s interim results presentation, Rowe insisted he would keep hold of the department’s reins. However, several sources have told Drapers the retailer is now looking to fill the position.
“It’s interesting as they clearly realise he can’t do it all but they haven’t automatically promoted Jo Jenkins [director of womenswear, lingerie and beauty], they are looking externally,” said one headhunter.
He said someone with a value background might be considered, as M&S is continuing to “trade down” and cut costs.
Some industry observers suggested outgoing House of Fraser CEO Nigel Oddy might be in the running, but this was dismissed by sources in the recruitment sector.
One supplier said: “[Former menswear director] Scott Fyfe has gone, Michael Kerr is looking after home, menswear and kids, while Jo Jenkins has a big remit. They need someone really good to come in and sort it out like [former Next group product director] Christos Angelides, but I’m not sure he’d go for it.”
Another supply source said the retailer needs a “product person” with a fashion background to fill the role, adding: “They need to get someone in who understands clothing. Stuart Rose understood product. It is key, if they don’t get it right, they haven’t a hope of turning that side of the business around.”
Like-for-like clothing and home sales at M&S fell 5.9% for the 26 weeks to 1 October.
During his 25 years at M&S, Rowe has been executive director of food for three years and worked in various roles in the home department for 10 years. He was also menswear merchandiser for six years and held numerous positions in store management. He became executive director of general merchandise in July 2015, replacing John Dixon.
M&S declined to comment on the clothing and home role.
Earlier today, M&S announced that chairman Robert Swannell will retire in 2017 after six years. Senior independent director Vindi Banga is now leading a process to find a replacement.