Marks & Spencer is planning to turbo-charge its online growth with the appointment of Laura Wade-Gery, currently CEO of Tesco.com and Tesco Direct. The announcement, made yesterday and well received by City analysts, confirms that Wade-Gery will join the M&S board as executive director of multi-channel and e-commerce. Her start date at M&S is yet to be confirmed, but she will be taking on the responsibilities of outgoing director of M&S Direct, Dave Hughes, whose departure was announced only last week.
Neil Saunders, analyst at Datamonitor’s retail arm, Verdict, said: “M&S has already put a lot of effort into improving its multi-channel offering and this appointment should help them accelerate non-store sales, first in the UK and over the medium term across the globe. A lot of the focus will need to be on understanding how stores and online work together and making the proposition across the two seamless from the customer point of view.”
M&S’ new chief executive Marc Bolland has a fast-track growth plan for the online channel. In his strategic review in November, he unveiled plans to double M&S's online sales by 2013/14. In the year to March 2010 online sales totalled £413m.
Bolland, said of the appointment of Oxford graduate Wade-Gery: “I am delighted that Laura is joining the Executive Team. Her appointment is in line with the plans we announced last November to grow our multi-channel e-commerce business both in the UK and internationally. Laura brings a wealth of relevant experience to M&S and we are all very much looking forward to working with her.”
Laura Wade-Gery commented: “I am really looking forward to joining the team. M&S is an iconic brand, and has huge potential to develop a multi-channel offering for its customers”
The appointment of Wade-Gery comes as a surprise as she was poised to take over Tesco UK’s non-food operation when Sir Terry Leahy retires in March.