John Lewis hired turnaround expert Nish Kankiwala as its first chief executive in March. Photo: John Lewis Partnership
Reduced demands on the chairman of the board This role will increase the partnership's potential to attract the best talent from the board to what is now considered one of the most challenging changes in corporate Britain.
Sources cautioned that discussions were just beginning and no decisions had yet been made on the future shape of the role. was taken.
Speaking to staff in an internal video message on Monday, a smiling Dame Sharon said: “When I joined the company almost four years ago, I agreed a five-year term with the board and the time has really flown.”< /p>
“It's really important for a partnership to have a really good process so that the partnership gets me the best possible replacement.”
In contrast to her five-year term, Ms Sharon's predecessor Sir Charlie Mayfield served as chairman for 13 years. The longest term held by a John Lewis chairman is 26 years.
It is unclear whether the board would support another term for Dame Sharon. The board consists of a chairman, deputy chairman, two executive directors, two non-executive directors and three elected directors from across the business.
It is clear that Dame Sharon has no other position. Sources have ruled out a vacant BBC chairman position and denied speculation that she could be appointed to the role in any future Labor government.
The announcement came just weeks after she pushed back targets for improving the situation, recognizing that it will now take longer to return John Lewis to sustainable profit.
It marked the latest in a string of setbacks for Dame Sharon, a former civil servant and head of Ofcom who took over at John Lewis weeks before the pandemic hit in early 2020.
She has had a difficult tenure tenure, resulting in the partnership ending in heavy losses and employee bonuses being eliminated for two years. over the past three years.
Dame Sharon blamed inflation and the move online for her failures.
She sought to diversify the John Lewis business into new areas such as property, as well as cut costs by hundreds of millions of pounds.
Dame Sharon has closed 16 companies since taking over the business. department stores, made major job cuts at its head office and was considering the sale and leaseback of a dozen Waitrose stores. The company is also moving to smaller offices in London.
However, its strategy and leadership have been criticized. In May, she lost a staff board vote on running the business. The workers' council said it had no confidence in the retailer's performance under her leadership over the past year. However, in a second vote they supported her plans for the future.
The council is due to meet next Wednesday, where Ms Sharon is expected to provide an update on her plans.
What to do? Do you think John Lewis and Waitrose have done well under Dame Sharon White? Send your views to our retail editor Hannah Boland at firstname.lastname@example.org.