Kate Bostock is leaving Marks and Spencer this autumn through “mutual consent” after eight years at the company.
She will leave both the board and her role as executive director of general merchandise from October 1.
Speaking this morning as he unveiled M&S’ Q1 results, which saw a drop in general merchandising of 6.8%, chief executive Marc Bolland said he and Bostock had been “working on [her departure] for a couple of months”.
It was “the best time to go”, he added, insisting they had an “excellent working relationship”. She would receive a “compromise agreement, but no special handshake”, Bolland said.
Bostock is being replaced by John Dixon, who is being promoted from executive director of food. In turn, current director of retail Steve Rowe is to take on the food role.
Both men are M&S lifers, with Dixon clocking up 26 years at the retailer, while Rowe has been there 23 years.
Belinda Earl, ex-chief executive of Debenhams, Jaeger and Aquascutum, will join on September 1 as style director. She will work two to three days a week, however Bolland said this was “a long time to spend on product only”.
Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne will join the company at the same time, in the newly created role of corporate director of strategy implementation and business development. He was previously a group president at The Estée Lauder Companies, and more recently has been advising the M&S team to develop the new M&S YourBeauty concept.
Bolland said the new structure would create “the best combination” possible, describing Earl as having “best-in-class star credentials” and praising Dixon and Rowe’s work over the past few years.
He added: “I am confident that this strengthened team of internal and external best-in-class experts will blend well together to deliver our strategy of building M&S into a leading international multi-channel retailer.
“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.”
Bostock’s departure ends months of speculation, although there is as yet no word on her next role. She has been previously linked to Asos.