Marks & Spencer has poached Laura Wade-Gery, Tesco's e-commerce director, to lead its campaign to sell more goods over the internet and telephone.
Wade-Gery, who had agreed to become the commercial director of Tesco's non-food operation in March, changed her mind to take up the newly created position of executive director of multi-channel ecommerce at M&S.
In his second top appointment since becoming chief executive in August, Marc Bolland decided to split the running of M&S's direct operation from its store sales business as he looks to step up its contribution to the bottom line.
She was immortalised by her travelling companion William Dalrymple, who described her in his award-winning book, In Xanadu, saying: "Her reputation had gone before her. She was renowned as a formidable lady, frighteningly intelligent, physically tough, and if not conventionally beautiful, then at least sturdily handsome."In November, M&S said it wanted to at least double online, mobile and landline sales from £400m last year to between £800m and £1bn by 2014.
Wade-Gery, an Oxford ice-hockey blue who studied history at Magdalen College, joined Tesco in 1997 after working at Gemini Consulting and Kleinwort Benson. A non-executive director of Trinity Mirror, her start date has yet to be determined.
In a separate announcement, Tesco said Per Bank, presently head of the supermarket's Hungarian unit, would take up the role of commercial director of UK clothing, electricals and general merchandise, that Wade-Gery had been due to take up. "I am grateful to Laura for the contribution she had made to the success of Tesco and wish her well for the future," said Philip Clarke, who will replace Sir Terry Leahy retires on 1 March.Bolland, whose first major hire as chief executive was to appoint Alan Stewart as finance director, said Wade-Gery's appointment was "in line with the plans we announced in November to grow our multi-channel e-commerce business in the UK and internationally".