Marks & Spencer Group PLC Thursday said it had hired Chris Taylor from rival Wm. Morrison Supermarkets PLC (MRWSY) for a senior role, nearly a year after Marc Bolland left Morrisons to join M&S as chief executive.
Taylor, who was leading Morrison’s push into the convenience store segment, will join Marks & Spencer May 3 as director of simply food, franchise and hospitality, replacing Neil Hyslop who is moving to a newly created role as director of space planning and development.
The move is a blow to Morrison, the smallest of the big four U.K. supermarkets that lags its rivals in the online, non-food and convenience sectors, three of the growth areas targeted by Chief Executive Dalton Philips.
Last month, updating its strategic plan outlined in November, Morrison said it had made its first foray into the online food market with the acquisition of a 10% stake in U.S Internet grocery group FreshDirect and fleshed out plans to trial a convenience store format as it tries to gain ground in the highly competitive U.K. grocery market.
“We’re delighted to confirm that Christopher Taylor is joining Marks & Spencer as director of simply food, franchise and hospitality. Christopher joins us on May 3 and we’re looking forward to welcoming him to the team,” said Marks & Spencer.
Marks & Spencer earlier this week defied a recent spate of downbeat retail news to report fourth-quarter sales ahead of expectations, news that sent shares in the U.K. bellwether up 6% Wednesday.
The company said it maintained broadly flat U.K. same-store sales in the 13 weeks ended April 2, trumping not only market expectations for a decline of 2.5% but also the performance of its peers. M&S reported same-store sales in its core U.K. market rose 0.1% in the month from a year earlier, with strength in food offsetting weak sales of general merchandise.
CEO Bolland said that consumer confidence, while low, had remained stable in the past two months. However, he emphasized that the company expects the coming year to be extremely challenging.
A Morrison spokesman couldn’t comment immediately on Taylor’s departure.
Source : Wall Street Journal