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New Matalan team to revamp clothing

Buying and merchandising shake-up aims to rectify ‘confused’ strategy.

Value retailer Matalan has restructured its buying and merchandising departments as part of its plan to strengthen its core offer and drive growth online.

Matalan has appointed its first dedicated head of online, Wendy Derbyshire, who was formerly director of ecommerce at womenswear chain Jacques Vert. The retailer has also started building extra layers of management at buying, merchandising and sourcing levels to support the plan.

Matalan has brought in Jonathon   Fitzgerald, former Sainsbury’s head of merchandising for womenswear, to the new position of merchandise director. He will start the role in early December. A buying director role has also been created, with responsibility for menswear, womenswear, kidswear and home, which is set to be filled by early next year. The role will sit alongside that of Margaret Melville, who was appointed as sourcing director last year.

Commercial director Adrian Mountford said he wanted a joined-up effort at director level. “We will have a strong team working together for me, from sourcing to how it looks in stores.”

The shake-up comes after ladieswear buying controller Angela Bannerman resigned from her post last month. Matalan is looking to replace Bannerman, who had been with the business for nine years. It is not known if she left with a job to go to.

The rejig forms part of a wider plan to refocus the value chain’s “confusing” clothing strategy and ensure its own labels, which include Be Beau, Et Vous and Soon, are “complementary to the core business rather than fighting against it”.

Mountford added: “What has happened is that through the introduction of brands our offer has become confused. [We will] come back to offering that core value Matalan business with a modern twist. We need to offer a point of difference to other value retailers.

“The dots are there but they’re not in the right order. We need to make sure [the brands] work in harmony together and we tighten the ranges and make them more targeted.”

Mountford, who did not rule out selling third-party brands online, added that Derbyshire’s appointment was part of the company’s “ambitious plans” for its website.

He said: “We’ll definitely be looking at extending the ranges online. Online presents a different set of opportunities.”

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