Helen Milford

Source: M&S

Milford is to lead M&S’s 70,000 store staff, supported by four regional divisional heads, including a former Lidl regional director

M&S has recruited senior figures from Asda and Argos to new property and retail director roles as it seeks to shake up its estate.

Will Smith, Asda’s VP of real estate, facilities and market development, is joining M&S as property director.

Helen Milford, Argos’ director of retail on the management board, joins as retail director.

Although there have previously been retail and property directors, the new roles have “bigger and broader remits”, M&S said. Both will report to M&S retail, operations and property director Sacha Berendji.

“Building a store estate that’s fit for the future with industry-leading store operations and empowered colleagues is a key part of our transformation programme,” said Berendji.

Only around a dozen stores currently stock the full food range and the business aims to rebalance the ratio of big sites to small, M&S Food MD Stuart Machin recently told The Grocer.

Smith will oversee M&S’s entire property function including asset and estate management, acquisitions, disposals and construction management. He has been at Asda for eight years, having previously been MD of Netto, which the supermarket acquired in 2010.

Milford is to lead M&S’s 70,000 store staff. Before joining Argos she spent 12 years at Asda, leaving as VP of retail south in 2016.

She will be supported by four regional divisional heads, two of whom are also recent appointments. Mark Henry joined M&S as divisional head for the south in November, having been a regional director for Lidl. Alex Hanson was Topshop head of retail before joining M&S as central divisional head this month.

The number of divisional heads had grown from three to four “to ensure our stores are as efficient as possible with empowered colleagues which trade as effectively as possible”, M&S said.

Berendji said: “Will Smith’s experience spans property, strategy and general management and he will drive forward our plans to create a store estate fit for the future. He will have accountability for every aspect of our property function including our newly formed asset management team and extensive property portfolio.

“Helen has an outstanding track record and she will be supported by two new heads of division with the right breadth and depth of experience to deliver our mission to be the best retail operator with the most engaged and empowered colleagues in UK retail.

“We are building a world-class team across M&S and I’m delighted to welcome Helen and Will to the business as we drive our transformation forward at scale and at pace.”