Halfords boss Jill McDonald to head M&S clothing arm

Marks & Spencer has poached the chief executive of Halfords and put her in charge of shoring up its embattled clothing arm.

Jill McDonald is leaving Halfords to take charge of Marks & Spencer's clothing arm. Picture: Halfords/PA Wire

The high street bellwether said Jill McDonald had been recruited into the new role of managing director for clothing, home and beauty, joining the retailer in the autumn of this year.

The move will see McDonald take over the responsibility of running of the clothing division from chief executive Steve Rowe, who has remained in charge of the operation since his promotion to the top job in April last year.

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M&S was given a boost at the start of the year when like-for-like sales in its clothing and home division rose 2.3 per cent in the 13 weeks to 31 December – the first growth since the January-to-March quarter in 2015.

However, Rowe stressed at the time that there was more work to do in its efforts to revive clothing sales and suggested the quarterly rise may not mark a return to sustained sales growth.

Speaking about McDonald’s appointment, Rowe said: “I am pleased with the progress we have made in clothing and home over the last year and the time is now right for this appointment.”

He added: “Jill is an excellent addition to the M&S senior leadership team and we are delighted that she is joining us. Jill’s first-class customer knowledge and great experience in running dynamic, high-achieving teams make her exactly the right person to lead this all-important part of our business from recovery into growth.”

Halfords, which is due to report its annual results on 25 May, said it started the search for a successor to McDonald, who will remain in charge at the car parts and bicycles retailer until the end of her notice period in October.

McDonald, who joined the chain from fast food giant McDonald’s in 2015, said: “Halfords is a great company with a fantastic team of people throughout the business, making my decision to leave all the more difficult.”