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2 Oct

The Shortest Chair: Sharon White, Chairman of the John

The Shortest Chair: Sharon White, Chairman of the John

LONDON — Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, which incorporates John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners in its portfolio, is stepping down and has asked the board to begin the method to appoint a successor.

“The chairman of the John Lewis Partnership is a special and unique role in U.K. business. The chairman is liable for the long-term health of the partnership’s model — business success twinned with a commitment to first rate customer support and motion in our communities,” White said in an announcement.

“Having led the partnership through the pandemic and the worst of the price of living crisis, it can be crucial that there may be now a smooth and orderly succession process and handover. The partnership is making progress in its modernization and transformation with improving results. There’s an extended road ahead and I’m committed to handing on the strongest possible partnership to my successor,” she added.

White has asked the board to “review the accountabilities of the chairman’s role” to make sure they support the transformation of the business.

Deputy chairman and chairman of the nominations committee Rita Clifton will oversee the appointment process. Once a call has been made, it should be approved by the partnership board as per the partnership’s structure.

White was named chairman in June 2019 and commenced her role in February 2020. The method to appoint her had began in November 2018.

Her five-year term will come to an end in February 2025, making her the corporate’s shortest serving chairman.

The 2022-23 fiscal yr results showed that John Lewis and Waitrose group sales were 12.25 billion kilos, a 2 percent dip from the previous yr. As a complete, the group reported a 78-million-pound loss.

John Lewis sales rose by 16 million kilos on a like-for-like basis with last yr, but its overall sales only rose by 0.2 percent in total.

In 2020, John Lewis closed eight of its stores, including one at Birmingham’s Grand Central center that cost 35 million kilos to construct and only survived five years.

The one light at the tip of the John Lewis tunnel is to be found inside its fashion division, which had a senior shake-up that has helped the category buck the group’s overall troubles.

Kin at John Lewis

Courtesy of John Lewis

Kathleen Mitchell joined the business in 2021 as business director, and he or she was liable for the hiring of John Lewis’ first director of design for fashion, Queralt Ferrer; Heena Mohammed as beauty lead; Claire Miles as head of own brand fashion, and Beth Pettet as head of fashion brands.

Mitchell, a L’Oréal and Accessorize alum, has helped increase fashion sales on the retailer by 13.7 percent within the fiscal yr ending Jan. 28.

John Lewis launched 251 brands within the last fiscal yr — with 109 going down in fashion, 114 in home and 14 in beauty and technology.

Men’s fashion was essentially the most successful category, with a 20 percent year-over-year increase. Womenswear sales rose 17 percent.

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