Former Tesco brand boss Michelle McEttrick named Primark’s first chief customer officer

Credited as playing a “key role” in Tesco’s brand turnaround story, McEttrick will join Primark in September.

Michelle McEttrick is taking on the top marketing job at Primark as its first chief customer officer, a year on from stepping down as Tesco’s group brand director.

Joining the high street fashion retailer on 19 September, McEttrick has been given the remit to further develop the Primark brand and customer strategy, as the business eyes expansion across new markets, channels and products.

She will report into CEO Paul Marchant and take on overall responsibility for marketing and customer communications, customer insight, and the retailer’s sustainability strategy Primark Cares.

McEttrick left Tesco in April 2021 after six years leading the supermarket’s brand through a transformational period. She is credited with playing a “key role” in the business’s turnaround, after it posted an historic £6.38bn pre-tax loss the week her appointment was announced in 2015, following an accounting scandal the year prior.

McEttrick was tasked with revamping the Tesco brand and “rebuilding it from the inside out”. By 2020 Tesco was named Brand of the Year at the Marketing Week Masters, and as she stepped down, McEttrick said the turnaround was now complete.

Before Tesco, McEttrick spent four years at Barclays, where she was CMO of global retail banking from 2010 to 2012, and managing director of group brand and marketing between 2012 to 2014.

The way we position our brand and engage customers, to increase loyalty and win new fans to Primark, will be critical to our success.

Paul Marchant, Primark

Earlier in her career, she worked as group account director at The Coca-Cola Company. She then spent some years agency-side, working at the likes of BBH and McCann Erickson.

Having spent time in FMCG, banking and supermarket brands, McEttrick says she is excited to take on this new role and play a part in Primark’s “future growth”.

“This is such an exciting time to be joining Primark. The team has done an amazing job of creating a beloved brand, and the opportunity is really to build on this strong foundation, adding capability as the business grows,” she says.

CEO Marchant says McEttrick’s appointment comes at a time of rapid change for the industry, where “the strength of the Primark brand has never been more important”.

“We see huge opportunities for growth and the way we position our brand and engage customers, to increase loyalty and win new fans to Primark, will be critical to our success,” he says.Why not being a ‘sector expert’ helped Tesco’s brand boss drive change

Primark’s most senior brand marketer previously was brand and communications director Mark Woods, who has stepped down for health reasons. However, the retailer has stressed that McEttrick’s new position is a separate and different role, and not a replacement.

Last year, Primark signalled that it would be stepping up its digital marketing capabilities, in order to deliver “more personalised content” to consumers. In April it launched a new consumer-facing website, as it aims to “transform” digitally.

In June, Primark said it is planning to trial a click-and-collect service, in a sign that the formerly store-only retailer is moving closer to ecommerce.