M&S boss to head up supply chain programme

15 July 2019

Marks and Spencer’s (M&S) CEO has stepped in to handle “long-standing” supply chain issues.

Steve Rowe announced he would be overseeing a programme to address supply chain issues in its clothing and home division after a series of availability failures.

Rowe is taking over from Jill McDonald, the former managing director of clothing and home, who had spent less than two years in the role. 

He said: “The business now needs to move on at pace to address long-standing issues in our clothing and home supply chain around availability and flow of product. Given the importance of this task to M&S I will be overseeing this programme directly.”

McDonald’s departure comes after a troubled year for the clothing and home division. 

At the retailer’s annual shareholders’ meeting, Rowe said while changes in people and processes designed to improve the division were underway, it had encountered problems.

He said a failed promotion on jeans in February 2019 had led to the “worst availability” he’d seen in his life.

While the retailer aimed to improve product availability and supply chain flow, not enough jeans were ordered, resulting in the jeans selling out. 

“We didn’t buy enough and that led to us having some of the worst availability of casual trousers I've seen in my life,” he said.

He said he believed the company had started to address these issues.

“[We’re] making sure we reduce the number of lines we’re running so we can buy deeper, concentrating on the big lines that we’re famous for across the UK,” he told shareholders.  

Earlier this year, M&S revealed it had saved £100m through its transformation programmes, including the restructuring of its end-to-end supply chain.

In May 2019, Rowe said “M&S is changing faster than at any time in my career [with] substantial changes across the business to our processes, ranges and operations, and this has constrained this year’s performance, particularly in clothing and home. However, we remain on track with our transformation and are now well on the road to making M&S special again.”

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