July 17, 2024

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John Lewis CEO says turnaround will focus on making a ‘brilliant retailer’

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The bosses of John Lewis and Waitrose have promised staff that they will prioritise retail as they press on with their turnaround of the lossmaking group.

Departing chair Dame Sharon White and chief executive Nish Kankiwala told employees at the UK’s largest employee-owned company in November they had to operate under a “one retail mindset”, whether it was Waitrose and John Lewis or its financial services and build-to-rent divisions.

“At the heart of what we want to do, we want to be a brilliant retailer that delights our customer . . . That is the strategy . . . and that’s what we’re really going to focus on, day in, day out, everywhere we go,” Kankiwala said, according to the retailer’s internal magazine seen by the Financial Times. Staff will be presented with a fuller plan “in January or February”,

The updated strategy will centre around four pillars — “We will be Distinctively Us, The Partner Difference, Simple and Productive, and Fix the Basics” — that are meant to improve interactions with customers, further simplify the business and increase productivity.

Since White joined the mutual in 2020 from media regulator Ofcom, she has set out to substantially increase the profits the group makes from financial services and building rental homes on its property, in a move away from its core retail business amid increased competition in the sector.

The Financial Times revealed in September that workers at Waitrose were at risk of losing their jobs if they did not agree to work more flexible hours to boost productivity and keep costs down.

John Lewis typically posts its annual results in March for the year to January. The company warned in September that it would take two more years to complete a turnaround as it posted a loss before tax of £57.3mn in the six months to July 29.

Kankiwala, who was…

2023-12-24 08:47:29

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