M&S puts Tesco exec Price in charge of its fashion offer
Running M&S’s Clothing & Home division is one of the most desirable and also the most challenging jobs in the UK retail sector and now we know who will take up that challenge as of next year. The retail giant said on Friday that its new Managing Director of Clothing & Home will be Tesco’s Richard Price.
Price is currently CEO of F&F Clothing, the supermarket fashion brand that Tesco sells. While that’s a big label in the UK, it pales into insignificance compared to the mega market share that M&S enjoys in UK fashion and homewares, even taking into account the C&H division’s struggles that seem to have dominated its results reports for the whole of this century.
M&S CEO Steve Rowe, who has been in charge of the C&H division himself in recent months, seems to think Price can make a difference. “Richard’s career spans some of the UK’s top clothing brands and he has a proven track record of delivering growth through stylish, great value product,” he said on Friday. “We are building a team of world class talent in Clothing & Home and, with Richard coming on board, I am confident that the speed and scale of the transformation of the business will accelerate.”
Price, who worked at M&S earlier in his career, will join at an unspecified date next year and has acknowledged the problems, but thinks that a turnaround can be achieved.
"Marks & Spencer Clothing & Home is a great business which still has strong brand affection and huge potential,” he said. “I left the business because I felt it was drifting in the wrong direction but now feel we have a real chance to make it special again. The new team has already started to improve product and value and I am looking forward to working with them.”
Price has been with Tesco’s F&F since 2015 and had been MD at BHS before that. His earlier stint at M&S covered 2005 to 2012, joining as head of merchandise and later becoming trading director.
And that CV shows that he knows how to cope at companies that face huge challenges. Tesco was fighting its way back from a bruising period of market share declines when he joined, while BHS eventually lost the fight for survival for reasons not necessarily linked to the products it was selling.
His task at M&S won’t be just about getting the designs right, it will be about getting the right product on the shelves at the right time in order to take advantage of sales trends. Rowe has made that a key focus and sacked previous C&H head Jill McDonald in the summer on the back of well publicised problems that meant the company couldn’t meet demand for popular items.
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