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Marks & Spencer appoints Arcadia marketing boss as brand director

Marks & Spencer has poached Arcadia group marketing director Alison Jones to join the retailer as brand director for general merchandise, which includes its clothing division.

Jones, who is the daughter of Next legend Sir David Jones and has previously worked at Debenhams, is the latest high-profile recruit to join M&S chief executive Marc Bolland’s restructured management team.

Jones will report to marketing supremo Steven Sharp once she starts in the newly created position. Her starting date is yet to be finalised. She will play a key role in developing M&S’s brand strategy as part of Bolland’s drive to better segment M&S’s offer via a shift “from labels to brands” and by distinguishing the retailer from its rivals by making the most of its product exclusivity.

Bolland hopes the change of emphasis, combined with in-store improvements such as better navigation and segmentation according to affluence and age, will help M&S add between £1bn and £1.5bn to UK sales by 2013/14.

At last week’s preliminary results, Bolland unveiled a raft of branding changes, including the introduction of a new overall identity which is set to replace the existing generic branding with M&S Woman and M&S Man for autumn 11.

He also revealed refinements to the branding of both the Per Una womenswear and the North Coast menswear ranges. Other brands are being reviewed and brand managers, who will report to executive director of general merchandise Kate Bostock, are being sought to take responsibility for them.

Jones’s hiring is the latest piece in the personnel jigsaw that has been underway at M&S. Other recent appointments include Mars executive Damian Guha as trading director for general merchandise.

M&S grew sales by 4.2% to £9.7bn in the year to April 2. Underlying pre-tax profit soared 13% to £714.3m. Sales of clothing also rose 4.2% during the year.

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