Marks & Spencer has poached Halfords’ Jill McDonald to lead its clothing arm. Judging by some reactions, the appointment was more of a shock than a surprise.

McDonald’s career to date has certainly been diverse, with appointments ranging from fast food titan McDonald’s to British Airways.

Nevertheless, her upcoming role at the helm of the high street stalwart Marks & Spencer’s clothing, home and beauty division hasn’t failed to raise eyebrows.

Independent analyst Nick Bubb went so far as to say that “nothing in her CV that would have implied that she was a candidate for this key position at M&S.”

However, at a time when bosses of retailers ranging from Tesco to Shop Direct have come from non-retail backgrounds, is an eclectic CV really a reason to doubt McDonald’s ability to turn around M&S’s flagging clothing division?


Sainsbury’s may have expected to get the full limelight in today’s news – however, given its slightly subdued results, perhaps Marks & Spencer’s surprise appointment was a welcome distraction.

At a glance, the supermarket’s giant’s results are a comparative mixed bag compared to recent showings by rival grocers Tesco and Morrisons.

However, global insights director at TCC Global Bryan Roberts said Sainsbury’s has made good progress with its pricing and marketing.

And the case for the grocer acquiring Argos has made itself, if the jump in group sales is anything to go by.

Quote of the day

“The May bank holiday beat our expectations, but it’s still pretty tough in big ticket. I think we’ve just got to live with it until the noise about the election dies down.”

 – Bathstore boss Gary Favell speaking to Retail Week about bank holiday trading.

Today in numbers


The rise in supermarket takings in April, according to Kantar Worldpanel


The fall in shop prices year-on-year last month, according to the BRC Nielsen shop price index

Thursday’s agenda

Keep an eye out for first quarter updates from Morrisons and Next.

Grace Bowden, reporter