Belinda Earl
  • Woolworths has appointed the UK fashion expert Belinda Earl as an independent director.
  • Earl was formerly Marks & Spencer's style director and CEO of both the department store Debenhams and fashion brand Jaeger.
  • She is known for a focus on quality clothes. 
  • For more, go to Business Insider SA.

Woolworths appointed a well-known British fashion expert to its board on Thursday.

Dubbed the “queen of retail” by the Financial Times, Belinda Earl started her career at Harrods, eventually becoming CEO of the premium British fashion brand Jaeger, which saw an impressive turnaround during her term.

Earl then became CEO of the department store group Debenhams, and made history in becoming the first British CEO of a major company to take maternity leave.

She joined Marks & Spencer in 2012, and was appointed the retail giant’s style director. She received an OBE for her services to retail in 2017.

During her time at Marks & Spencer, she brought a number of changes to the retailer’s fashion offering, including improving the quality of clothes.

M&S started using more expensive fabrics such as cashmere and silk, and the quality of basic products also improved, with T-shirts, for example, becoming 2cm longer. Earl also launched a “Best of British” collection of clothes and shoes that were manufactured in the UK.

She was partly successful in stemming years of falling clothing sales at Marks & Spencer, but of late the UK retailer’s clothing sales have again disappointed.

Woolworths is facing similar challenges, with local clothing sales falling by 2% in the six months to end-December (compared to a 6% rise in food sales).

Woolworths management said in a statement on Thursday that they look forward to Earl’s contribution to the board. Her tenure as director starts next month.   


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