The lack of multichannel directors on retail boards is hampering the long-term development of digital initiatives, according to Marks & Spencer ecommerce boss Laura Wade-Gery.

Speaking exclusively to Retail Week, she maintained the shortage of multichannel experts in senior management is hindering the retail industry’s ability to fully adapt to the digital age because most boards don’t understand why investment is vital.

“One of the challenges for all non-pure-play retailers is how do you get the boardroom to be sufficiently digitally literate,” she said. “I’m still relatively rare as a board person who effectively runs the online business. I talk to heads of online in other retailers and they’re struggling, they turn up in the boardroom and nobody has a clue about what they’re talking about.”

Wade-Gery joined the M&S board in 2011 and was tasked with transforming the retailer into an ecommerce powerhouse. She has since overseen initiatives including the flagship Cheshire Oaks store, which features multichannel innovations.