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M&S Food MD kicks off transformation plan with new leadership team

Marks & Spencer Food Managing Director Stuart Machin has kicked off the first stage of the Food transformation with a series of big new hires joining existing, in-house talent to complete his Food Leadership Team.

Under the plan to protect the best of M&S Food and modernise the rest, a key focus for Machin will be improving the commercial aspects of the business. To deliver this, George Wright, most recently Commercial Director at Tesco, will join the M&S Food team in the new role of Commercial Director responsible for Trading and Supply Chain.

George, who originally trained in aeronautical engineering, has over thirty years of outstanding business and food experience covering buying, commercial management and trading both in the supply chain and for retailers. George was formerly General Manager at Coles Supermarkets and has also worked at John Lewis, RF Brooks and Unilever. George will join M&S Food in late 2019.

Also vital to the turnaround of M&S Food is improving the customer offer with relevant innovation and product development. This drive will be led by April Preston who is re-joining M&S as Product Development Director in November 2018.

April, who is currently responsible for transforming the Harrods Food Hall, has a long and illustrious food career spanning over thirty years, including 18 years working at M&S where she was responsible for developing over 10,000 ground-breaking products including the ever-popular Gastropub ready meals.

Stuart Machin, M&S Food Managing Director, said, “I am determined to use a mix of great internal talent and impressive new hires to build a winning team to transform M&S Food into a winning business. A team geared up for change and united in their common love and passion for creating great tasting, quality food for our customers. Having the right leaders in place is our first step in the early stages of this transformation plan.

“George is a brilliant operator who is very well respected by the supply chain for his fair and commercial approach and April is a true food disruptor who has an innate talent for creating amazing customer-loved products. They will both bring skills and talents to M&S that will complement and complete the Food Leadership Team.”

Working alongside George and April on the Food Leadership team will be Paul Willgoss, M&S’s Technical Director who has 23 years’ service; Neil Adams, who was recently appointed to the new role of Food Transformation Director; Sharry Cramond, Food Marketing Director and Nick Hewitt who was recently appointed Food Finance Director.

M&S Food is also strengthening the Trading Teams that will report into George and recently appointed Katharine Haenelt, a renowned industry expert in protein, to the new role of Head of Trading for Meat, Fish, Poultry and Dairy – a key category for M&S Food.

There will be also some departures from M&S Food. Product Development Director, Cathy Chapman who first joined M&S in 1975 and has worked for the company for 25 years in two stints, will retire from M&S and become an independent consultant in December 2018. Additionally, Stuart Forder, Food Trading Director, and Syd Reid, Food Supply Chain and Logistics Director, have resigned from M&S to pursue other career opportunities. Syd is staying with M&S until January 2019 and Stuart until March 2019.

Machin said, “I’d like to thank Stuart and Syd for their significant contribution to M&S and wish them well for the future. I’d also like to pay tribute to Cathy Chapman. From transforming the fresh ready meal market with the Chicken Kiev to developing so many award-winning ranges and products, Cathy has pioneered food that has shaped the palettes and tastes of Great Britain. We will miss her enormously, though she will continue to be a great friend to M&S.”