By Linda Hall •
Updated: 04 Oct 2023 • 12:22
SHARON WHITE: No second term for John Lewis chair
Photo credit: Retail Week
SHARON WHITE, executive chair of the John Lewis Partnership, will step down in February 2025 when her five-year term ends.
Her predecessors remained at John Lewis for stints lasting between 13 and 26 years, making White the retailer’s shortest-serving chair. It is understood that she will not receive a payoff from the £1.1 million (€1.27 million) a year post.
The Partnership lost £234 million (€270.34 million) last year and in March, staff who are partners as well as employees, had to forego their annual bonus for only the second time since the scheme was introduced in 1953.
On announcing her exit, White also requested a review of the chair’s accountabilities to ensure continuity in the business’s “successful” transformation.
The Partnership is making progress in its modernisation and transformation with improving results,” she said. “There is a long road ahead and I am committed to handing on the strongest possible Partnership to my successor.”
According to retail analyst Neil Saunders from GlobalDataRetail, Sharon White had never been the right person to chair John Lewis, which also owns Waitrose.
“She didn’t cause all of the issues the company faces, but she’s also done much damage,” he posted on X (formerly Twitter).
This included a plan to sell a stake in the company to raise more than £1 billion (€1.15 billion) which would have flown in the face of the traditional staff partnership. The plan was dropped after Stone won a vote of confidence by a narrow margin during the staff council’s twice-yearly meeting in May.
“Her lack of retail experience and her civil service background have, quite bluntly, not served the company well,” Saunders continued. “The next chairman of JLP needs to have both the qualities she lacked.”
Nevertheless, Natalie Berg, who founded the NBK Retail consultancy, told the BBC that she felt White had received “somewhat of a raw deal” having had to deal with both the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis.
“She was too busy firefighting to make genuine progress on the much-needed turnaround,” she maintained.
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Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share?
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