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Marks & Spencer's head of wine Andrew Bird takes role at Woolworths South Africa

Published:  23 May, 2014

Marks & Spencer's wine boss and head of trading Andrew Bird is leaving his role next month to take up a two-year post at Woolworths of South Africa.

Marks & Spencer's wine boss and head of trading Andrew Bird is leaving his role next month to take up a two-year post at Woolworths of South Africa.

He will be replaced by Garry Brooking, who has worked with M&S for the past eight years in roles across food and multi-channel. For the last three years Brooking has managed the supply chain for ambient food, which includes BWS. Brooking started at M&S as a wine buyer in e-commerce then moved to trading manager responsible for launching the M&S Wine Direct & Wine Club business six years ago. Before joining M&S Brooking worked at Waitrose for six  years.

Marks & Spencer's Andrew BirdM&S Andrew BirdMarks & Spencer’s head of wine and ambient trading Andrew Bird has take a two-year secondment to South Africa’s Woolworths. He will be replaced by Garry Brooking.

Bird has been with M&S since December 2007 as category manager for BWS and soft drinks. He was subsequently promoted to head of trading, overseeing all drinks, ambient grocery and non-food. During his tenure at the retailer the wine range has grown by 50% in size and been awarded International Wine Challenge retailer of the year in four out of the past six years.

Bird has also been instrumental in introducing a host of wines from lesser-known regions including the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as Brazil and India. He has also overseen the trebling in size of the sales and range of beers and spirits.

He also has been involved in a number of key strategic initiatives including the roll-out of new decor and a merchandising scheme across the business, a redesign of BWS packaging, the rapid growth of the M& wine business and the re-introduction of wine into M&S's western European stores.

Bird takes up a two-year secondment as trading head with Woolworths of South Africa, at the firm's head office in Cape Town, returning to Marks & Spencer in mid-2016. His responsibilities will include management of the wine and soft drinks teams.

There is a long standing relationship between Marks & Spencer and Woolworths of South Africa, with the companies sharing information, products and knowledge, and working together to support each other.

Woolworths is run by the Marks family and was originally set up as the sister company of M&S in South Africa. The shared ownership ended during apartheid when the British government made it illegal for British companies to be in business in South Africa. At that time both companies sold their 20% share in the other and an agreement was set up to share information.

Senior M&S management team members Marc Bolland, John Dixon and Steve Rowe work very closely with their South African counterparts while former M&S chief executive Stuart Rose is one of Woolworths' non-executive directors.