M&S poaches Tesco's online chief to power internet sales

Marc Bolland, the chief executive of Marks & Spencer, pulled off a massive coup yesterday by poaching a highly regarded director from Tesco to lead its global assault on online shopping.

The high street bellwether has hired Laura Wade-Gery, the chief executive of Tesco.com and Tesco Direct, as the executive director of multi-channel e-commerce and she will sit on its main board. Only last month, Tesco promoted Ms Wade-Gery to the job of commercial director for UK clothing, electricals and general merchandise.

Her defection to M&S is a major blow for the supermarket's chief executive-designate, Philip Clarke.

She was due to take up her new role at Tesco next month when the restructure of the grocer's senior team takes place and the chief executive Sir Terry Leahy hands the baton over to Mr Clarke, its head of international.

The hiring of Ms Wade-Gery is a huge signal of intent for the online ambitions of M&S under Mr Bolland, who took the helm in May after leaving Morrisons supermarkets.

Tony Shiret, an analyst at Credit Suisse, said: "I think it is a great appointment. I don't know her personally, but to have made it to the UK Tesco board and to be well-thought of in Tesco, she is obviously the quality of person they need at M&S."

M&S refused to say what her salary or bonus package will be or when she will start.

Ms Wade-Gery said: "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."

Tesco moved quickly to fill the position by appointing Per Bank, the chief executive of Tesco Hungary, as head of non-food, the role Ms Wade-Gery was due to take up next month.

Mr Bolland said the appointment of Ms Wade-Gery was "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 experience to M&S".

When he unveiled his strategy for M&S in November, Mr Bolland vowed to increase its global online sales to between £800m and £1bn by 2014 – double the £413m it achieved in the year to March 2010.

A key drive will be expanding the retailer's online sales abroad. While it delivers non-food items ordered on the web to 80 countries, M&S plans to start introducing dedicated local websites in key countries during the next year. One option would be to launch a website initially focused on a flagship store in a foreign city, then gradually expand farther afield.

The internet giant Amazon provides M&S's website infrastructure but the retailer will build its own platform from 2013. The hiring of Ms Wade-Gery will fuel speculation that M&S plans to launch an online grocery operation to take on Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Ocado. M&S has a limited online grocery, which includes catering services and business lunches. It has been linked to a bid for Ocado but market sources have dismissed such rumours. The executive search firm Spencer Stuart helped place Ms Wade-Gery at M&S.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk