Led by M&S Food managing director Stuart Machin, the key focus of the appointments was to improve the commercial aspects of the business.
First of the new hires was former Tesco commercial director George Wright, who joined the company in the new roles of commercial director responsible for trading and supply chain.
Wright has more than 30 years of experience in the food industry, having previously served in senior roles at John Lewis, RF Brooks and Unilever. He will join the company in late 2019.
April Preston re-joins M&S after leaving in 2013 to join 2 Sisters Food Group as group director of insight and innovation, before becoming executive head of food innovation at Harrods in 2017. Preston will lead M&S’s product development from November this year.
‘Build a winning team’
Machin 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.
“A team geared up for change and united in their common love and passion for creating great tasting, quality food for our customers. Having the right leaders in place is our first step in the early stages of this transformation plan.”
Following the appointments, Shore Capital advised shareholders to keep M&S’s shares ahead of its full-year 2019 interim results in November, noting the retailer’s potential for growth thanks to the new team.
Shore Capital senior analyst Clive Black said: “We have chronicled over the last year how the senior team has evolved to bring forth necessary cultural change and, it needs to be said, better capability.
‘Pre-condition for success’
“The right team is a pre-condition for success and investors will undoubtedly be hoping that with the squad now in place, that the pace and resulting output of the ‘Transformation’ can continue and show positive results.”
The new hires were bookended by a number of departures from the company. Product development director Cathy Chapman is retiring from M&S after 25 years with the company and becoming an independent consultant in December 2018.
Additionally, food trading director Stuart Forder and food supply chain and logistics director Syd Reid have resigned to pursue other career opportunities.
Commenting on the departures, Machin said: “I’d like to thank Stuart and Syd for their significant contribution to M&S and wish them well for the future. I’d also like to pay tribute to Cathy Chapman.
“From transforming the fresh ready meal market with the chicken kiev to developing so many award-winning ranges and products, Cathy has pioneered food that has shaped the palettes and tastes of Great Britain.”