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John Lewis confirms job cuts, Paula Nickolds to become Executive Director, Brand

Published
today Oct 1, 2019
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John Lewis Partnership has confirmed plans to axe a third of its senior management head office roles as it looks to integrate the teams behind its John Lewis department store and Waitrose grocery chain.


John Lewis


The sweeping shake-up comes with news that the Managing Director of Waitrose & Partners, Rob Collins, will leave the business next year.

The job cuts are part of a new plan called ‘Future Partnership’ aimed at streamlining the group to enable a faster delivery of products and services. The John Lewis Partnership said the changes will enable the organisation to be managed and operated as a single business.

This means the creation of a single executive team responsible for both John Lewis’ and Waitrose’ strategy and performance. The two Managing Director roles are being eliminated, and instead, Paula Nickolds, currently Managing Director of John Lewis & Partners, will become Executive Director, Brand.

In her new role, Nickolds, who was appointed as the department store’s first female boss in 2016, will lead the Brand, Digital, Marketing and Services teams across the John Lewis Partnership.

75 senior management head office roles will be cut as a result of the restructure, significantly downsizing the group’s 225-strong HQ workforce.

The changes will be with effect from 3 February 2020.

Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Our current structure has served us well in the past, enabling us to develop two of the UK’s most loved and trusted brands. In the last three years we have delivered significant innovation and driven efficiency, maintaining market leading service standards and growing customer numbers. However, the lesson of the last two years is that we need more innovation, faster decision making and bolder steps to align our operating model with our strategy. This is what the ‘Future Partnership’ is all about.”

The changes uncover the group’s new battle plan after posting its first half-year loss earlier this year. Underlying pre-tax losses slumped to £25.9m in the six months to 27 July, compared with a profit of £800,000 in the same period a year earlier.

“We are confident, as a board, that when the programme is complete, the partnership will be better positioned to break out from the cycle of declining returns that are affecting most established retailers. We will be a more modern and more unified business with a leadership team and cost structure that will enable the business to thrive in the long-term,” Mayfield continued.

The group is now preparing to welcome Sharon White as the new Chairman in early 2020. The former Oxcom chief executive will be the sixth Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership.

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