• Changes affect about 200 staff
  • Restructure is designed to better reflect customer habits
  • Improvements expected to deliver clearer price architecture and enable better buying

Marks & Spencer has restructured its womenswear teams as new chief executive Steve Rowe aims to revive the struggling clothing division, Retail Week can reveal.

The overhaul is the first big change initiated by Rowe, who stepped up to become chief executive at the start of this month.

He vowed then to make improving clothing performance his “number one priority” and to put the customer at the heart of decision-making.

The changes to the teams, led by head of womenswear Jo Jenkins, affect about 200 employees across design, buying and merchandising.

Clothing will now be designed and bought by product type rather than by brand as M&S aims to take a ‘holistic’ approach both to the business and the reality of how customers shop.

The shift is expected to give M&S a clearer price architecture, along with improved product and design handwriting.

The new approach should also allow the retailer to buy better as part of the sourcing programme spearheaded by the Lindsey brothers.

An M&S spokeswoman said: “Our womenswear teams are now organised by product type rather than by brand and range.

“This better reflects the way our customers shop with us and puts our customers’ view at the heart of our product decision-making.

“In simple terms, it means that there will be one team responsible for designing and buying all of one type of product for our customers.

“For example, all of our trousers, whether they are M&S Collection, Autograph or Per Una, will be bought by the same team.”

No jobs will be lost as a result of the changes.

While M&S’s food division has performed consistently well, clothing has posed problems.

Earlier this month, the retailer reported a 2.7% fall in like-for-likes at its clothing and home arm. The division only achieved like-for-like growth in one of the last 21 quarters.