Marks & Spencer has made a string of changes to its senior Food team as it looks to modernise its grocery segment following a sharp decline in profits across the business.
Upon releasing a 62 per cent drop in pre-tax profit in the year to 31 March 2018, the retailer initiated a “transformation programme” after admitting it was struggling with the migration of clothing and home online, the development of global competition, the growth of home delivery in food and the rise of the discounters.
The revamp to its food arm will see staff hired from inside and outside the company, with Tesco’s commercial director for fresh food, George Wright, joining in the new role of commercial director responsible for trading and supply chain.
Wright has over thirty years of business and food experience covering buying, commercial management and trading, both in the supply chain and for retailers.
Formerly general manager at Coles Supermarkets, he has also worked at John Lewis, RF Brooks and Unilever, and will join M&S Food in late 2019.
In addition, Harrods’ executive head of food innovation, April Preston, will rejoin M&S as product development director in November 2018. She is currently in charge of redeveloping the Harrods Food Hall, and during her previous 18-year spell at M&S she was responsible for developing over 10,000 products.
Other members of the team are being hired internally, namely technical director Paul Willgoss, food transformation director Neil Adams, food marketing director Sharry Cramond, and food finance director Nick Hewitt.
There will also be some departures from M&S Food. Product development director Cathy Chapman will retire from M&S in December 2018 after 25 years at the company, while food supply chain and logistics director Syd Reid and food trading director Stuart Forder have resigned from M&S to pursue other career opportunities. They will leave the company in January and March 2019 respectively.
M&S Food MD Stuart Machin, who is leading the modernisation plan, said: “I am determined to use a mix of great internal talent and impressive new hires to build a winning team to transform M&S Food into a winning business. Having the right leaders in place is our first step in the early stages of this transformation plan."
He added: “George [Wright] is a brilliant operator who is very well respected by the supply chain for his fair and commercial approach, and April is a true food disruptor who has an innate talent for creating amazing customer-loved products.
“They will both bring skills and talents to M&S that will complement and complete the Food Leadership Team.”