// John Lewis & Waitrose faces potential restructuring, according to The Sunday Times
// The John Lewis Partnership board reportedly wants to bring its two retail chains closer together
// Chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield wants to reduce duplication across John Lewis & Waitrose, which could lead to job losses
The John Lewis Partnership board is reportedly mulling plans to restructure the business in order to streamline office roles, cut costs and bring its two retail chains closer together.
According to sources speaking to The Sunday Times, Sir Charlie Mayfield – the outgoing chairman of the parent company of John Lewis and Waitrose – has drawn up plans to reduce duplication at the business to cut costs.
The two retailers currently have separate HR departments, finance, marketing and procurement departments.
They also have separate operating boards in three different head offices: one for Waitrose, one for John Lewis, and a third used for the partnership.
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Mayfield’s plans could lead to job losses as a result.
The Sunday Times also reported that the partnership’s pension scheme could also be up for review.
Details of Mayfield’s restructuring plans are reportedly set to be revealed in the coming months ahead of Sharon White’s arrival as the partnership’s new chair.
However, Mayfield would first need to discuss his plans with the partnership council. The employee body that must be consulted on any business decision could lead to 12 or more employees losing their jobs.
A spokesperson for the John Lewis Partnership said: “At our recent half year results we spoke about working as one business, with two brands. We are pressing on with this work and will share details in due course.”
The partnership’s half-year report, published almost two weeks ago, showed it had swung to an underlying pre-tax loss of £25.9 million, compared to profits of £800,000 this time last year.
The marked the partnership’s first-ever half-year loss.
Overall half-year revenue also took a hit, declining 1.4 per cent year-on-year to £4.78 billion.
The partnership said its half-year losses were driven by widened operating losses at John Lewis, which increased to £61.8 million from £19.3 million a year ago as it suffered falling sales, surging costs of an IT overhaul and increasing cost inflation.
Waitrose performed better, with underlying earnings increasing 14.7 per cent to £110.1 million, though like-for-like sales slipped 0.4 per cent year-on-year.