Marks & Spencer has strengthened its senior management with two key appointments.

Damian Guha will join Marks & Spencer from Mars as trading director for home, and the retailer has also poached rival John Lewis’s head of strategy and international development, Robert Weston, to become brand director for food.

Guha, at present the general manager of Mars’ business in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, will report to Marks & Spencer general merchandise supremo Kate Bostock.

Although he does not have home category experience he will bring expertise including sales, brand management and marketing from Mars, which has frequently been a breeding ground for retail talent – notably at Asda.

Marks & Spencer chief executive Marc Bolland has identified home as a key opportunity. At present only 20% of the retailer’s customers shop the home department and Bolland said at last November’s strategic update that there is a “real opportunity to grow this part of our business.”

Guha’s start date has not yet been finalised but the appointment fills a longstanding existing vacancy.

Weston’s role is one newly created by Bolland – the plan was also unveiled in November – and another brand director for general merchandise has still to be appointed. Both will report to marketing boss Steve Sharp.

Bolland has pinpointed M&S’s brand as one of its greatest strengths and he wants to emphasise the uniqueness of its ranges. The Only at Your M&S marketing strapline was introduced as part of the push.