M & S loses personnel chief in top-table rejig

The departure of group personnel director Clara Freeman does not spell the end for HR at the Marks & Spencer top table, the ailing retailer claimed this week.

Freeman was the store’s first female executive director and her high-profile appointment took the profession by surprise last year.

Recently named as a Personnel Today Top 40 Power Player, she is leaving along with two other executives in a shake-up of the senior management team.

The move appears to be a blow for human resources at M&S. But a spokeswoman this week refuted suggestions her departure meant M&S was relegating the importance of HR.

Responsibility for HR will now pass to Graham Oakley, also chief legal adviser and company secretary.

The spokeswoman said Oakley could not sit on the board because of his position as company secretary but stressed that he reports directly to chief executive and chairman Luc Vandevelde.

She said, “In a sense it puts HR higher on the priority list. We deny this means there is any less commitment to HR within M&S.”

The other two casualties of the shake-up are chief executive Peter Salsbury and international retail and business systems director Guy McCraken. Freeman has resigned from the board and will leave the company.

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