Marks & Spencer has parted ways with the head of its new loyalty scheme for allegedly using racist language, it has emerged just days before the company gives an update on the Christmas period.
The retail giant confirmed that its global director for loyalty & insight, Suzanna Broer, has left the company. On her Linkedin page Ms Broer said she was responsible for the creation and launch of Sparks – M&S’s innovative new membership card for more than 33 million customers.
News of the departure comes less than three months after the national launch of Sparks in October.
A spokesman for M&S declined to comment on the reasons for her exit or in response to the Sunday Times story which reported that she was dismissed for gross misconduct in mid-November after an allegation that she used racist language.
It is not known whether Ms Broer denies the allegation. She did not respond to a request for comment via Linkedin.
The M&S spokesman said the company would never comment on individual cases.
He added: “Marks & Spencer does not tolerate any form of discrimination in the workplace. We pride ourselves on being an equal opportunities employer and aim to create an inclusive and supportive environment across all of our workplaces at every level of our organisation. We will always take all the necessary steps to protect our employees from discrimination of any kind.”
Nathan Ansell has replaced Ms Broer. Previously, he was head of marketing for food.
The changes precede the release of the retailer’s third-quarter statement on 7 January. The City expects M&S to report that general merchandise sales fell by as much as 5.5 per cent, with food sales largely static.
Neil Saunders at the retail consultancy Conlumino said: “We expect food to have done reasonably well versus the market. However, general merchandise is likely to have suffered from negative like- for-likes. This is partly down to the unseasonable weather, which has been unhelpful for all clothing retailers.
“Fortunately, M&S has managed to improve its margins over recent years, so the negative impact of any discounting activity is likely to be limited.”
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