Jun 7, 2019

Newbie Sharon White suits unusual John Lewis

From the 1000-thread Egyptian cotton sheets in the group's department stores to the Duchy Originals all-butter Highland shortbread in its Waitrose supermarket chain, customers of the John Lewis Partnership know quality when they see it. In dealing with them their new leader, Sharon White, who will take over from Charlie Mayfield as chairman next year, faces a political challenge as delicate as any she encountered during her four years as head of telecoms regulator Ofcom. The annual bonus, a key perk of working at John Lewis or Waitrose, has fallen from 15 per cent of salary in 2014 to just 3 per cent in the year to January 2019. Underlying profits at John Lewis fell 45 per cent last year. Some wonder whether Ms White's newness to both the private sector and the retail industry may tilt power back towards Paula Nickolds, the head of John Lewis, and Rob Collins, her counterpart at Waitrose.

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