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Marks & Spencer Appoints Retail Veteran Stuart Machin as Managing Director of Food

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Coresight Research

Key Points

  • Marks & Spencer (M&S) announced that it has appointed retail veteran Stuart Machin to the newly created role of Managing Director of Food.
  • Machin is currently Group CEO of Steinhoff UK. He previously held management positions at grocery chains Coles Supermarkets, Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
  • Machin’s appointment will support M&S’s ambition to reposition its food business by offering lower prices, better availability and more products that families buy during their regular grocery shopping trips.

Machin to Take Newly Created Role

On March 22, M&S announced the appointment of Stuart Machin to the new role of Managing Director of Food.The move is part of the retailer’s plan to overhaul its grocery operations, and Machin will join M&S in late April,reporting to CEO Steve Rowe.

Machin is currently Group CEO of Steinhoff UK, which includes furniture brands Bensons for Beds and Harveys. From 2013 to 2016, he served as Managing Director of value general merchandise chain Target in Australia and from 2008 to 2013, he was COO at Coles Supermarkets, one of Australia’s two major grocery retailers. Machin has also held senior leadership roles at three of the four major UK supermarket chains: he was previously Operations Director at Asda, Operations Director—Fresh Foods at larger rival Tesco and Retail Operations Director at Sainsbury’s.

Last year, M&S unveiled a five-year turnaround plan. For the food division, this involves:

  • Slowing the opening of Simply Food stores.
  • Concentrating on its core offerings of “food for now” and “food for tonight.”
  • Reducing niche offerings and including more merchandise suitable for a family grocery shop.
  • Investing in value in order to sharpen prices.
  • Focusing on fresh and natural foods.
  • Improving ranging and availability.

In our view,the creation of the new role and Machin’s appointment are positive moves that should support the food business’s repositioning. Machin’s substantial grocery experience, including at retailers with more value-oriented positioning, should prove useful to M&S as it moves to make its prices more competitive, simplify its offering in terms of range and promotions, and get the basics right in areas such as availability.

Machin said, “My heart lies in food retail and I am excited to bring my passion for dynamic, customer-led food retailing to M&S. The business has many reasons to be proud of its food offer, but there are also opportunities and lots to deliver under the transformation plan that Steve [Rowe] has laid out.”

M&S CEO Rowe said, “We face challenges in our food business and we have lots to do to change, fast. Stuart is an excellent addition to our team. He gets food retailing and he has first-class experience of driving change in big food retailers. At M&S, we need to sharpen our prices, improve our products, drive profitability and grow market share—Stuart is the right leader to get on and deliver these changes.”

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