M&S

Marks & Spencer has removed Jill McDonald as the head of its fashion and home after failing to turnaround the departments.

Chief executive Steve Rowe will take direct charge of the division while a replacement is found. He said Marks & Spencer still needed to “address long-standing issues in our clothing and home supply chain around availability and flow of product”.

Ms McDonald joined M&S from Halfords two years ago for her, hired for her “first-class customer knowledge” and experience leading hugely successful teams. It came as a surprise to many in the industry given that she was heading to a struggling fashion retailer with no fashion experience.

She was the leader of a turnaround plan which has seen stores closed and the management structure revamped in a bid to prevent the recent trend of falling profits.

But at the retailer’s annual general meeting earlier this week, Steve Rowe said it was a “troubled year”, with no sign of improvement for its fashion and home departments. Although he stressed that fashion lines have improved in terms of fit, style and value, the chief executive said supply was still a major issue.

He said the retailer did not order enough pairs of jeans for a promotion event during February, which “led to us having some of the worst availability in casual trousers I’ve seen in my life”.

“Further work [is needed] on getting size ratios correct, making sure we reduce the number of lines we’re running [and] concentrating on the big lines that we’re famous for across the UK,” he added.