M&S picks new head of womenswear from BAA

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The Independent Online

Marks & Spencer has appointed a new head of womenswear to replace Barry Morris, who left the struggling retailer in May.

The new man is Steve Longdon, who joins from BAA, the airports operator, where he was chief executive of its World Duty Free business.

Mr Longdon, 49, has experience in fashion retailing. He spent 12 years at Arcadia, the group once called Burton, where he was managing director of Top Shop and Top Man.

He started his retail career at M&S in 1973, spending 13 years at the company, first in store management, then as a merchandiser in childrenswear and womenswear. He will start at M&S before the group's annual meeting on 11 July. His pay has not been disclosed.

The appointment was regarded positively in the retail industry. One fashion insider said: "Steve's a good trader and it is a good appointment [by M&S].... He's an aggressive individual, though he will probably have to get other people in around him. He will add energy and an ability to get things done."

Mr Longdon will work alongside Yasmin Yasuf, who joined M&S from Arcadia as creative director for womenswear. He will not be in charge of George Davies, who is contracted to supply a range of womenswear under the Per Una label.

Mr Longdon will not be on the main M&S board but will report directly to Roger Holmes, head of UK retail. Mr Holmes said: "Steve's strong commercial ability and focus and his drive to achieve results will be the key in turning around womenswear at Marks & Spencer."

Also yesterday, M&S unveiled its autumn/winter womenswear collection, the first presided over by Ms Yusuf. M&S customers will be offered dark denims.

It was well received, and the company's shares closed 8.5p higher at 253p.

New collection, page 14