Pure Beauty

Marks & Spencer parts ways with beauty and fashion boss Jill McDonald

By Sarah Parsons | Published: 12-Jul-2019

The former Halford boss was head of clothing, cosmetics and home for the struggling British high street retailer for two years

Marks & Spencer has confirmed that its beauty, fashion and home boss, Jill McDonald, is stepping down after nearly two years in the role.

As cross-category Managing Director, McDonald struggled to turn around the retailer’s clothing business.

Her departure follows recent speculation after M&S’s CEO, Steve Rowe, admitted at the company’s AGM that 2018 was a difficult year in fashion and general merchandise, which included beauty.

M&S has failed to invest in the recent beauty business boom, lagging behind some of the biggest names on the British high street – such as John Lewis, Sainsbury’s and Boots – who have capitalised on the category with expanded beauty halls, exclusive brands, in-store services and digital innovation.

McDonald, who joined M&S from Halfords, will leave with immediate effect. Rowe will oversee her division until a replacement has been found.

M&S’s long-standing supply chain issues around availability and flow of product is expected to be a top priority for the new director.

Holly Willoughby for Marks and Spencer

Holly Willoughby for Marks and Spencer

According to Rowe, M&S will also continue to target a younger shopper.

“Jill was brought in to establish a strong platform for the transformation of the clothing and home business,” he said. “She has achieved that; she leaves with my thanks and good wishes for the future.

“She has recruited a talented team, improved the quality and style of product and set a clear direction for the business to attract a younger family age customer.”

Rowe has previously complained that lines promoted by TV presenter Holly Willoughby repeatedly sold out.

The British television personality was crowned 2018’s beauty icon of the year, according to a consumer survey by Superdrug.

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