John Lewis Partnership names James Bailey as Waitrose executive director

The John Lewis Partnership (JLP) has appointed ex-Sainsbury’s grocery director, James Bailey, to the new role of executive director.

JLP – which includes John Lewis and Waitrose – also said today (29 April) that a recruitment process is under way for the same role at the department store division. These appointments mark a shift away from plans announced for the partnership leadership team under former chairman Charlie Mayfield, prior to his departure.

According to JLP, the new job roles “build on the changes to the management structure unveiled last year to create a single partnership”, which had initially opted to replace the separated John Lewis and Waitrose management boards with a single executive team.

The move was made at the time to bring together functions such as customer service, strategy, finance, supply chain, property and HR, and has resulted in a swathe of job losses. Previous managing directors of Waitrose and John Lewis, Rob Collins and Paula Nickolds respectively, both left the group in the aftermath of the announced structural changes.

Sharon White, who joined as chairperson of JLP in February, taking the hotseat held by Mayfield for 13 years, explained the new executive roles at Waitrose and John Lewis “will allow us to get the best of both worlds out of our new management structure”.

“We’ll have all the benefits of bringing together activities that are best organised pan-partnership and reducing duplication while still recognising that there are important differences in the way you run a department store and a supermarket,” she explained.

White added that Bailey’s 18 years of experience at Sainsbury’s, across finance, strategy, convenience and commercial, and then latterly as buying director for grocery with accountability for over half the company's turnover, will be put to good use at Waitrose.

Bailey and the soon-to-be-appointed other executive director will become members of a seven-person executive team, operating under White. Their responsibilities will cover trading, merchandising, marketing, and developing customer propositions for their respective shops and websites, but they will be tasked with working closely together to develop new products and services.

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