Marks & Spencer fashion boss Jill McDonald is leaving the business, less than two years after joining from Halfords.

McDonald, who has served as managing director of clothing and home since October 2017, has exited with immediate effect.

Jill McDonald

Jill McDonald

M&S chief executive Steve Rowe will assume direct responsibility for its clothing and home division following her departure.

The move comes days after Rowe admitted at the retailer’s AGM that it had endured a “troubled year” in fashion and general merchandise.

He pointed to a jeans promotion in February as one example, when buyers failed to buy enough stock.

Rowe said M&S had “the worst availability in casual clothes I have ever seen in my life”.

In the year to March 30, M&S’ clothing sales fell 3.6%. Revenues from the division slipped 1.6% on a like-for-like basis.

Rowe said: “Jill was brought in to establish a strong platform for the transformation of the clothing and home business. She has achieved that. She leaves with my thanks and good wishes for the future.

“She has recruited a talented team, improved the quality and style of product, and set a clear direction for the business to attract a younger family-age customer.

“The business now needs to move on at pace to address longstanding 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.”