John Lewis cuts third of management roles as it unifies with Waitrose

The John Lewis Partnership has announced an overhaul of its business which will see John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners managed and operated as a single business.

The retailer said unifying the two brands will allow it to enable a “faster delivery of better products and services”, while also improving internal and customer service systems by developing common IT and supply chain platforms.

JLP will no longer operate divisional boards or separate managing directors for John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners. Instead, the chairman will lead the executive team which will comprise of seven new director roles with responsibilities across the whole of the business.

Changes will come into effect from February 2020 and will see 75 senior management head office roles axed from the current total of 225. The plan, called ‘Future Partnership’, will ultimately lead to around £100 million in cost savings over time.

The biggest name to depart head office is Waitrose boss Rob Collins. Meanwhile, the current MD of department stores, Paula Nickolds, will become executive director of brand, which will also head up customer experience and future innovations. She will lead brand, digital, marketing and services across the John Lewis Partnership.

Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Sir Charlie Mayfield, said while there would be considerable change as the company brings the two businesses together, the retailer’s shops and websites will see “little or no disruption” in the near term.

“Our current structure has served us well in the past, enabling us to develop two of the UK’s most loved and trusted brands,” he added. “In the last three years we have delivered significant innovation and driven efficiency, maintaining market leading service standards and growing customer numbers. However, the lesson of the last two years is that we need more innovation, faster decision making and bolder steps to align our operating model with our strategy. This is what the ‘Future Partnership’ is all about.”

He continued: “We are confident, as a board, 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. We will be a more modern and more unified business with a leadership team and cost structure that will enable the business to thrive in the long-term.”   

Sharon White, chairman designate, added: “I am passionate about working together as one partnership. There is huge potential to unlock from Partners working across our two great brands, providing brilliant service to the many customers who shop at both Waitrose & Partners and John Lewis & Partners. I am very excited to be taking forward the partnership in this next phase of its transformation when I join at the start of next year.”

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