Marks & Spencer has been hit by the departure of a senior member of its troubled clothing division, just weeks after starting a new role at the retailer and ahead of the critical Christmas trading period.
Jo Jenkins, appointed as the firm’s director of clothing and beauty in May, has left M&S to become chief executive of White Stuff.
An M&S spokesman said: “We’re delighted for Jo - she’s been a real talent here at M&S, which is reflected in the progress she has made both professionally and for the business.
“Becoming CEO at a company like White Stuff is a natural next step for her. We wish her all the very best with her new role.”
However, her departure will be a blow for chief executive Steve Rowe, who has made turning around the ailing womenswear division one of his top priorities.
Earlier this year he drafted in former Halfords chief executive Jill McDonald as managing director of clothing, home and beauty to lead the turnaround.
In July the high street giant said like-for-like sales fell 1.2 per cent in its clothing and home division, although Mr Rowe said the unit was moving in the “right direction” as the performance marked an improvement on the 5.9 per cent tumble seen in the previous three months.
Earlier this year the retail giant , formed in Leeds in the 19th century, announced it was to close a number of its out-of-town stores, including one in Yorkshire.
M&S confirmed that the Monks Cross branch in York was one of six stores nationally that would close following a review of its estate, a move that will impact 380 staff.
The proposal was said at the time to be part of a five-year programme aimed at better meeting the “changing needs of customers”.
The other stores earmarked for closure are in Portsmouth, Slough, Warrington, Wokingham and Worksop.
Alongside the announcement, the retailer said it would open 36 new stores as part of previously announced plans, a move that will create over 1,400 jobs
M&S is mainly targeting the opening of stores selling food only, the one area of business to thrive in the challenging world of modern retail.