John Lewis managing director Andy Street is to step down on 28 October after being chosen as the Conservative candidate for metropolitan mayor of the West Midlands.
The employee-owned department store chain said today that his successor will be announced in “due course”.
Street joined the retailer as a graduate trainee and has spent 31 years at the company, including a nine-year stint as managing director.
He said: “It has been a privilege to lead John Lewis through a transformational period in the retail industry, and I am confident that we have built a business which will continue to thrive while being loyal to its principles.
“The success of John Lewis is down to the hard work and dedication of thousands of Partners across the country, and I know that they will continue to serve our customers with distinction.”
John Lewis chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield paid tribute to the veteran employee, saying he leaves “the brand with great momentum for the future”.
Street said that voters in the West Midlands faced “a critical election” in May, adding: “It will determine how we create wealth here and what type of society the West Midlands will become. I promise to work tirelessly to convince voters that I am the man to lead us through these decisions.
“The opportunity we now have is unprecedented. Our economy is being renewed, but we have much more to do to ensure everybody feels the benefit. Our mission is therefore to build the economic powerhouse of Britain in an inclusive way.”
Former chancellor George Osborne said Street was a “strong voice” and the fact that he had put himself forward for election “shows our new elected metro mayors will have real power and are attracting high-quality candidates”.
Street is due to deliver a speech at the Conservative Party conference, which takes place in Birmingham this weekend. He joined John Lewis in 1985 after reading politics, philosophy and economics (PPE) at Oxford. As well as heading the firm, he has served on a number of government bodies, including the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group.
He has also been chairman of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, which is tasked with driving regional economic growth.
The mayoral role oversees regional affairs including road networks, housing supply and bus services and leads the combined authority covering Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Walsall, Sandwell, Solihull and Wolverhampton.