M&S hires first chief digital and data officer to drive ‘modern digital mindset’

New role will take on responsibility for digital innovation, customer insight and loyalty at a crucial time for the struggling retailer as it prepares to close more than 100 stores over the next four years and move a third of its business online.

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer is gearing up for a digital-first future with the appointment of its first chief digital and data officer.

Jeremy Pee, who is currently senior vice president of Canada’s largest retailer Loblaw Companies Limited, will join M&S in December. His remit is to leverage data and digital for the benefit of customers, colleagues and shareholders, as well as developing a “modern digital mindset” and culture across the business.

The struggling retailer is currently going through one of its biggest and most critical transformations to date as it prepares to close more than 100 stores over the next four years and move a third of its business online.

In its latest results for the year to the end of March 2018, pre-tax profits dropped 62.1% to £66.8m, down from £176.4m the previous year. At the time, chief executive Steve Rowe said the retailer was looking to “accelerate change” in digital as it looks to navigate the difficult climate on the high street.

“Jeremy is an excellent addition to M&S. He has first class experience of leading and executing retail digital transformation and growing a portfolio of ecommerce businesses,” Rowe, who Pee will report to says.

“As we seek to become a digital-first retailer, grow market share and change our digital behaviours, mindsets and culture, he is the right leader to deliver these changes and make M&S fit for the digital age.”

Pee’s appointment follows a series of technology-focused partnerships with Microsoft, Founders Factory, Decoded and True.

In July, M&S revealed plans to launch The Retail Data Academy which will take more than 1,000 colleagues from every retail function of the business – including marketing and customer service – and teach them about technologies including machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“M&S is going through a critical transformation and there’s no better time to be joining the business,” Pee says. “I am looking forward to driving and shaping the digital innovation agenda.”

Prior to Loblaw, Pee held senior roles at office suppliers Staples as senior category merchant and director of corporate strategy. He will join M&S’s operating committee and have accountability for digital innovation, customer insight, loyalty proposition and digital business development.