Jan 13, 2020
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John Lewis’ Paula Nickolds to receive £750,000 payoff

Jan 13, 2020

The outgoing managing director of John Lewis Partnership will collect up to £750,000 from the company after quitting her post.

Paula Nickolds - John Lewis

In a shock announcement last week, Paula Nickolds said she was stepping down from the board in February after 25 years at the British retailer. 

The decision follows a management overhaul led by chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield, which involves a newly-created management board and the integration of the John Lewis and Waitrose chains, previously managed as two separate business units.

The restructure saw Paula Nickolds lose her title as managing director of one of the UK’s best-loved retailers to become executive director of brand, responsible for the enhancement of the group’s brands and leading the development of customer experience.

According to the Sunday Times, this was seen as a demotion by Nickolds, who had been offered a payoff of roughly equivalent to a year’s salary if she later decided the role was not for her.

Her departure leaves the group’s turnaround plan in tatters. At least two of seven senior roles in Mayfield’s plan are vacant, following the departure of the managing directors of both businesses - Rob Collins at Waitrose and Paula Nickolds at John Lewis. 

And what’s worse, transition will be made harder by a change of chairmanship, with Dame Sharon White expected to take over as chair next month despite her lack of experience in the retail sector.

The management issues put further pressure on a group that is already facing several challenges. John Lewis Partnership issued a profit warning last week after it was forced to discount heavily in the run up to Christmas. Like-for-like sales fell 2% over the festive period.

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