M&S has revealed the inspiring woman who will be leading the opening of its new large store at a south Essex shopping centre.

Dior Hudson has been appointed to lead the opening of the major supermarket's new store inside the former Debenhams unit at Lakeside shopping centre later this year.

Dior will oversee the work between now and later this year to get the new store ready to open to the public.

New team members will be recruited to join the existing M&S colleagues who will transfer to work in the new store. This marks Dior’s tenth year at M&S, starting out at the company on the retail graduate scheme after leaving university and working in a variety of stores across London and the south east.

This is also Dior’s second large store opening, following the successful launch of M&S Stevenage last year.

She said: “Having the opportunity to open my first major large store last year in Stevenage was a huge milestone in my career at M&S. It’s always a steep but really rewarding learning curve when you do a job like that for the first time.

“Looking back, it really is the proudest moment of my life so far and I can’t wait to get everything ready for our fantastic new store in Lakeside.

“The key to the whole thing is having an amazing team around you, and my team in Lakeside have already been working so hard to make sure everything is perfect for our customers.”

Dior is part of a group of six women leading M&S’s five biggest new store openings in 2023, with each member of the all-female team running stores in three of the country’s most popular shopping centres - Manchester’s Trafford Centre, Leeds White Rose and Thurrock's Lakeside – and in the key city centre sites of Birmingham Bullring and Liverpool ONE shopping centre.

Dior said: “Opening the new store in Lakeside will be a new, exciting challenge and it’s really great that this time, there’s five other store managers across the country to go on this journey with me.

“It’s great to have that support system and be able to learn from each other’s experiences as every store is different and has its own challenges and rewards.”

The store managers have more than 115 years of retail experience between them and will lead a combined team of over 1,000 colleagues. The new appointees will take on leadership roles with responsibility for some of the retailer’s biggest and most prominent sites.