Marks & Spencer has raided arch-rival Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia to complete the make-up of its restructured senior marketing team.
Alison Jones, at present Arcadia’s group marketing director, will join M&S as brand director for general merchandise, reporting to marketing supremo Steven Sharp.
Jones, daughter of Next legend Sir David, has also previously worked at Debenhams. Her start date is to be arranged.
She will play a pivotal part in developing M&S’s brand strategy in the key category as part of chief executive Marc Bolland’s drive to better segment M&S’s offer through a shift “from labels to brands” and by making the most of its product exclusivity.
Bolland hopes the change of emphasis, combined with in-store improvements and other measures, will help M&S to add between £1bn and £1.5bn to UK sales by 2013/14.
At last week’s preliminary results he unveiled a raft of changes, including replacing generic Marks & Spencer branding with M&S Woman and M&S Man.
He also revealed refinements to the branding of the Per Una womenswear and North Coast menswear ranges. Other brands are being reviewed and brand managers being sought to take responsibility for them.
Jones’ hiring is almost the final piece in the personnel jigsaw at the top of M&S. Her appointment follows that of Robert Weston, formerly John Lewis head of strategy and international development, as brand director for food.
Other recent appointments include the promotion of Andy Adcock to become trading director for food and Mars executive Damian Guha’s hiring in the same role for general merchandise.
Retail Week knowledge Bank director Robert Clark said that the strategic shift and appointments make sense. He said the creation of brands such as Per Una had been important but they had not been sufficiently moved on in recent years. “M&S missed out a bit on market segmentation and it’s more important than it has made it recently,” he said.
He said the creation of the new roles created an opportunity for “people who are ready to take responsibility and the chance really to make their mark”.