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John Lewis head Sharon White to step down within a year

By Rachel Douglass


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Sharon White, JLP chairman. Credits: John Lewis Partnership.

Sharon White, the chairman of British department store group John Lewis Partnership, has announced her intention to step down from the helm position, asking the board to initiate a process to appoint her successor.

It comes as White begins to enter the final stages of her five-year term at the company, having initially stepped into the role in February 2020, meaning her term comes to an end in February 2025.

According to a release, White has also requested for the board to review “the accountabilities of the chairman’s role to ensure that these continue to support the successful transformation of the business”.

The appointment process will be overseen by deputy chairman and chairman of the Nominations Committee, Rita Clifton, with the Partnership Board to eventually approve of the successor.

Progress in ‘modernisation and transformation’ to remain intact

Speaking on the move, White said: “The chairman of the John Lewis Partnership is a special and unique role in UK business. The chairman is responsible for the long-term health of the Partnership’s model – commercial success twinned with a commitment to first rate customer service and action in our communities.

“Having led the Partnership through the pandemic and the worst of the cost of living crisis, it is important that there is now a smooth and orderly succession process and handover.

“The Partnership is making progress in its modernisation and transformation with improving results. There is a long road ahead and I am committed to handing on the strongest possible Partnership to my successor.”

During her time at John Lewis, White has not managed to steer clear of scrutiny amid the turbulent market in which the retailer has found itself in.

Earlier this year, the executive was put under pressure from both internal and external parties after she suggested selling a stake of the business to an external partner, which would result in the company no longer being 100 percent employee-owned.

According to a report by The Sunday Times, the move could have helped the struggling retailer raise between one billion pounds and two billion pounds, following its report of widening losses in the year to January 28.

This, combined with decline sales and a lack of bonuses, was cause for speculation that resulted in a vote of confidence in White by the retailer’s Partnership Council, during which the chairman secured a majority win from those supporting her approach to the company’s future.

John Lewis