John Lewis begins search for new chair

Sharon White, the current chair of John Lewis, has asked the board to begin the process to appoint a new successor as she heads towards the end of her third year of the five-year role.

White will stay on for the full five-year term, ending February 2025.

The process to appoint her was first started in November 2018, after which she joined the company in February 2020.

It is likely the new chair will be announced over the next 12 months.

As part of the recruitment process, the current chair has asked the board to review the accountabilities of the role to ensure that these "continue to support the successful transformation of the business".

“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," said Sharon White, chair of the John Lewis Partnership. “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.”

Her comments come after the retailer revealed that inflation played a part in increasing its costs by £179 million, knocking the company's ambitious transformation plan back by two years.

Last week, reports said that John Lewis was planning to sell 12 of its Waitrose stores in a bid to raise capital.

The British retailer is aiming to raise around £150 million from the sale and leaseback of the UK properties, according to a report from Bloomberg.

People familiar with the matter told the news organisation that marketing of the supermarkets will launch next week.

The report said that the stores, which will include 20-year inflation linked leases, will mainly be based in the south of England.

The reports come after the partnership recorded pre-tax losses of £57.3 million over the 26 weeks to 29 July.

The company managed to narrow its losses by 14 per cent in the first half of the year but has continued to been affected by rising costs.

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