The head of Marks & Spencer’s struggling clothing business just quit after 26 years at the company.
John Dixon “decided to leave the business to pursue career opportunities outside of the company” and will leave the board “immediately,” according to a statement this morning from M&S.
In the statement Dixon says: “I now have the opportunity to become a Chief Executive and have therefore resigned from this great company.”
The FT reports that Dixon has been looking around for a new job for a while now and after becoming disillusioned with the management at M&S.
Many investors will know the feeling. Since chief executive Marc Bolland became CEO of Marks & Spencer in 2010, the company has struggled with falling sales in its clothing business.
The High Street retailer dressed a generation of Brits and was the go-to shop for women’s underwear for years. But in the past decade or so it has fallen out of fashion and is now seen as the retailer for grandparents.
M&S tried to reinvent itself as a fashionable brand, particularly for women, through a high-profile advertising campaign last year featuring famous Brits such as designer Vivienne Westwood, singer Ellie Goulding, and actress Helen Mirren.
The retailer also trumpeted key “pieces” in its collection such as a suede brown skirt, which it called “iconic.” The strategy seemed to be working, with clothing sales rising for the first time in 15 straight quarters during the first three months of the year.
But figures out at the start of this month show the general merchandise division, a key part of which is clothing, is shrinking once again.
Marks & Spencer’s is now turning to the head of its food business, Steve Rowe, to run general merchandise. Food has been pretty much the only bright spot in Marks & Spencer’s business in recent years.