New M&S fashion boss vows to listen to customers

M&S’s new head of fashion, beauty and interiors on Tuesday bowed out of her previous role as CEO of car and bike accessories retailer Halfords on a high and said she would listen carefully to M&S customers and give them the products they’re looking for.


Jill McDonald takes up her post at the UK retail giant in November as it continues its turnaround and responds to criticism that it has lost touch with its core customer.

She reported rising sales at Halfords and while that was good news for shareholders and staff at the firm, it also had a knock-on effect on M&S’s share price, which rose by 5.25p to 326p.

In the Halfords results announcement she said that the company was growing because it listened to its customers.

She said: “Whatever business I've worked in – and I'll take it to M&S as well – I've learnt that you have to stay as close as possible to your customers. It sounds like the most generic thing to say but it's amazing how easy it is to slip off that path. You have to invest in not just understanding customers, but then acting on what they want, showing that the whole business is orientated around better serving customers.”

Despite McDonald’s high profile, news of her appointment to M&S earlier this year was met with some surprise with both analysts and customers questioning her lack of experience in a style-linked product role.

Speculation over who would get the coveted-but-challenging task of turning around M&S’s womenswear fortunes had been intense. But most of the names mentioned seemed happy to stay put in their existing jobs or had already found high-profile new posts, such as former Next clothing supremo Christos Angelides who became CEO of Reiss this year.

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