Marks & Spencer has snapped up former Evans brand director Frances Russell for the new role of trading director for its market-leading lingerie business.

Russell, who left Arcadia-owned Evans at the end of last year, will report to head of womenswear, lingerie and childrenswear Kate Bostock and will oversee buying and merchandising.

M&S revealed at last November’s interims that it controls 25 per cent of the lingerie market, dwarfing its closest competitors. However, although the high street giant had increased its share, competition is increasing.

Last month, it was reported that confidential TNS data for the 12 weeks to the beginning of December showed that M&S’s share of the market had fallen by 3 per cent. An M&S spokeswoman said then that it was “still selling four times as much lingerie as the nearest competitor”.

Verdict lead analyst Maureen Hinton said that other big fashion groups were keen to grab a bigger slice of the lingerie sector.

“The main challenge is from retailers such as Primark, New Look and the department stores, which are very strong on brands,” she said.

Hinton believes Russell is a good hiring. She said: “She’s got strong commercial experience and will be able to identify very well with the M&S shopper.”

Russell, who joins M&S at the end of next month, had worked at Arcadia since 1993 and before that was at Debenhams.

M&S to launch Software

M&S is to sell own-brand software in selected stores and on its web site.

The five-product range, including M&S Office Suite and M&S Internet Security, will give the retailer the chance to carve out a share of the UK’s£8.5 billion software market.

M&S’s venture follows Tesco’s push into the market two years ago and is another example of chief executive Sir Stuart Rose’s determination to drive into new categories.

M&S software has been developed with Formjet, which was also responsible for Tesco’s own-brand range.