M&S human resources chief leaves after seven months

May 27, 2020

The executive recruited to transform Marks & Spencer's internal culture has found herself out of a job less than eight months after joining the high street retailer.

Sky News has learnt that Harriet Hounsell, who joined in October last year, has already left the business following yet another corporate restructuring.

A former John Lewis Partnership executive, Ms Hounsell was hired from McDonald's UK business.

She left M&S earlier this month, according to a previously unreported internal memo from its chief executive, Steve Rowe.

Ms Hounsell's role is understood to have been made redundant after Mr Rowe decided to devolve HR responsibilities to its individual business units.

Her exit provides further evidence of the management instability at Britain's best-known high street retailer, which unveiled a sharp fall in annual profit earlier this month.

M&S has just named a new chief financial officer, head of strategy and property director.

It is also awaiting Richard Price's arrival as the new managing director of its clothing and home business - its most important division.

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Mr Rowe's recruitment of Ms Hounsell followed remarks by M&S's chairman, Archie Norman, that the retailer's culture was too slow and required an injection of pace.

The company is in the process of closing dozens of stores and launching a UK joint venture that will see it replacing Waitrose as Ocado's delivery partner.

An M&S spokesperson said: "Steve Rowe has already announced changes to the business leadership structure with the formation of a small executive board consisting of the operating managing directors, together with Katie Bickerstaffe, who has now started as chief strategy and transformation officer, and Eoin Tonge, chief finance officer, who is arriving in early June."

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