Online and catalogue fashion retailer Joe Browns has hired former Morrisons director Michael Bates as its managing director.

Founder and former managing director Simon Brown has been appointed as brand director to develop the etailer’s product offering.

It is the first time the role has been filled by someone outside of the company. Chairman Peter Higgins said appointing an external managing director was an “important milestone” for Joe Browns.

In his 17-year career at Morrisons, Bates held various positions, including seven years as marketing director and latterly 18 months as category buying director.

Brown said: “Michael brings a wealth of consumer and commercial retail experience which will be invaluable in enabling us to propel the business forward.”

Bates said: “I’m really excited to be joining such a vibrant company at such an exciting time in its growth and relish the prospect of exploring and shaping the future multichannel strategy and really getting my teeth stuck into the challenge.”