Marks & Spencer fashion boss Jo Jenkins is quitting the bellwether retailer to take the reins at White Stuff.
Jenkins’ departure comes just a few months after she was passed over for the role of managing director of clothing, home and beauty in favour of then-Halfords chief executive Jill McDonald.
White Stuff chair Debbie Hewitt said: “We are delighted to welcome Jo to White Stuff as CEO. She is a talented retailer who brings great customer insight, relevant product knowledge and strong store operations experience and she has a track record of developing effective supply chain relationships.
“She is recognised for leading with a strong brand vision and for bringing a positive customer ethos to the core of the businesses that she has worked with.
“Her experience will enable her to work with our team to strengthen our brand credentials and to develop the business into new areas. We look forward very much to working with her.”
Jenkins said: “I am really excited to be joining White Stuff and becoming part of a business well known for its focus on its people and its customers.
“It is a privilege to be leading the business through this next phase of its development and I am looking forward to working with all of the White Stuff team to build on on the values and customer ethos laid down by the founders.”
Jenkins’ move comes as Marks & Spencer chief executive Steve Rowe pushes on with his strategy to turn around the company’s embattled fashion division and as the retailer prepares for the key Christmas trading period.
The appointment of McDonald, who is highly regarded for her customer insight skills, was a key hire as part of the revival programme.
Her lack of fashion retail experience raised some eyebrows but it was pointed out that she would have a seasoned clothing team around her.
Jenkins, who was promoted at the same time to the role of director of clothing and beauty, was seen as a key player in that team.
A Marks & Spencer spokeswoman said: “We’re delighted for Jo – she’s been a real talent here at M&S, which is reflected in the progress she has made both professionally and for the business.
“Becoming CEO at a company like White Stuff is a natural next step for her. We wish her all the very best with her new role.”
Marks & Spencer will post interim results on Wednesday, November 8, when attention is likely to focus on food as well as its fashion performance.
M&S’ grocery arm has performed strongly, but there was a slowdown when it last updated in July.
At White Stuff Jenkins will succeed Jeremy Seigal, who said in July that he would be standing down.