LONDON (Reuters) - Marks & Spencer's <MKS.L> director of clothing and beauty Jo Jenkins has resigned to join private clothing chain White Stuff as chief executive, the British retailer said on Wednesday.


A Marks & Spencer spokesman said the company was delighted for Jenkins, whose talent was reflected in the progress she had made both professionally and for the business.


"Becoming CEO at a company like White Stuff is a natural next step for her," he said.


Jenkins' resignation will come as a blow to Chief Executive Steve Rowe, who is trying to revive clothing sales at the 133-year-old retailer by simplifying ranges, improving product and availability and reducing promotions.


He has poached Jill McDonald from car-parts and bicycles retailer Halfords to run the clothing business, but she enters the business this autumn with no track record in the fashion industry.

Rowe said in July a second quarterly rise in full-price clothing sales showed his strategy was starting to work, although like-for-like sales of clothing and homeware still fell 1.2 percent in the quarter.

Shares in Marks & Spencer traded down 1 percent at 341 pence at 0844 GMT.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle and James Davey; editing by Jason Neely and David Evans)