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John Lewis to cut 1,500 head office jobs

By Huw Hughes

4 Nov 2020

The John Lewis Partnership has announced plans to cut up to 1,500 head office jobs by April 2021 as part of its ongoing strategy to return to profit.

The redundancies are estimated to save the retailer 50 million pounds - a significant contribution to its target of making 300 million pounds in annual cost savings.

This is the latest phase of the partnership’s five-year plan to return to sustainable profits by 2025. The first two years of the plan, announced last month, focus on strengthening its John Lewis and Waitrose retail businesses and is backed by a 1 billion pound investment in customer service and experience in-store and online.

John Lewis also announced that Patrick Lewis, the company’s finance director and the grandson of its founder, is stepping down at the end of this year after 26 years at the business.

John Lewis trims head office team

He will be succeeded by Bérangère Michel, who is currently executive director of customer service, and former finance director at John Lewis. Instead of hiring a new executive director of customer service, and in line with the company’s plan to trim its executive team, Michel’s responsibilities will transfer to Waitrose executive director James Bailey and John Lewis executive director Pippa Wicks.

Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said in a statement: “Our Partnership Plan sets a course to create a thriving and sustainable business for the future. To achieve this we must be agile and able to adapt quickly to the changing needs of our customers.”

“Losing Partners is incredibly hard as an employee-owned business. Wherever possible, we will seek to find new roles in the Partnership and we’ll provide the best support and retraining opportunities for Partners who leave us.”

“It has been a privilege and pleasure to work with Patrick. He is the best of the Partnership and personifies our purpose and our values. His determined drive to build the financial strength of the business has granted us opportunity to emerge stronger from the Covid crisis. Patrick told me a while ago of his wish to leave the Partnership to seek new opportunities. I’m very grateful to him for agreeing to stay until we’d been able to identify a successor.”

Photo credit: John Lewis media gallery