Third of senior management jobs get axed by John Lewis Partnership

Retail stalwart John Lewis, which prides itself on being owned by its staff, called partners, is taking the axe to the head of its Waitrose supermarket chain and scores of other head office roles.

John Lewis has three Scottish department stores, in Aberdeen, Edinburgh (above) and Glasgow. Picture: Jon Savage
John Lewis has three Scottish department stores, in Aberdeen, Edinburgh (above) and Glasgow. Picture: Jon Savage

The partnership said that Rob Collins, who is managing director of the Waitrose business, will leave in January after a 26-year career with the group following its decision to scrap separate management teams for its two divisions.

The overhaul means that the firm will cut about 75 of its 225 senior management head office roles as part of moves that will save it some £100 million “over time”.

Paula Nickolds, managing director of the John Lewis department store arm, which has three stores in Scotland, will remain with the group, taking on the newly created role of executive director for brand.

The partnership runs a number of Waitrose branches in Scotland. Picture: JPIMedia

Outgoing chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said the business needed to take “bolder steps” to turn around its fortunes in a testing retail market.

“Although there will be little or no disruption to our shops or websites in the near term, there will be considerable change in many other areas of the partnership as we bring the two businesses much closer together,” he noted.

“These are necessary and these changes will be difficult for some of our partners and we will implement as carefully and sensitively as we can.

“We are confident… 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.”

Last month, John Lewis said it had sunk to a half-year loss and warned that a hit from a no-deal Brexit would be “significant” and impossible to offset.

The partnership said that, while it was taking action to prepare for a possible no-deal, it could not entirely protect itself against an expected major impact.

Results showed that it fell to an underlying pre-tax and bonus loss of £25.9 million for the six months to 27 July - against a modest profit of £800,000 a year earlier.

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