// John Lewis Partnership chair Dame Sharon White expected to unveil strategic review
// The retail giant is reportedly talking to McKinsey about their involvement in a review
// John Lewis Partnership expected to post dismal results due to massive writedown on the value of its properties
John Lewis Partnership’s new boss is reportedly going to launch a strategic review amid reports that the retail giant is expected to post dismal full year results this week.
According to The Sunday Times, Dame Sharon White – who took the helm at parent company of John Lewis and Waitrose last month – is liaising with consultancy firms including McKinsey about their involvement in a strategic review.
White is also reportedly working with newly appointed executive strategy director Nina Bhatia on the review.
- New John Lewis boss Sharon White hints at adjustments to restructure
- New John Lewis boss Sharon White warns on job cuts & store closures
- Top 3 challenges Sharon White faces as John Lewis chair
The news comes amid speculation that the partnership could post a loss in the hundreds of millions in its full year trading update, due to massive writedown on the value of its properties.
The John Lewis Partnership owns the freehold of around 10 per cent of its properties, while the remaining portfolio are a mix of short and long leases.
The company’s share of sales generated from physical stores could be brought under the spotlight amid concerns of declining footfall and online sales now taking up around 40 per cent of total sales.
White has already hinted she could make some adjustments to the partnership’s restructuring plan that was launched by her predecessor Sir Charlie Mayfield.
The restructuring plan will effectively merge John Lewis’ and Waitrose’s head office functions into one team, resulting in 75 job cuts and savings of around £100 million.
It prompted the resignation of Waitrose managing director Rob Collins and the surprise resignation of John Lewis managing director Paula Nickolds, who had been slated to become the new brand executive director, overseeing both John Lewis and Waitrose in a newly-created role.
When Mayfield’s restructure was first unveiled in October, the partnership said White had concurred with it.
White has since told the Gazette – the company’s in-house magazine – that “there will be some adjustments”, but stressed that Mayfield’s “Future Partnership” structure was the right path as the business was “stronger” when it works “collaboratively” thanks to a 40 per cent customer overlap.
White also previously warned of potential store closures and job cuts, given John Lewis Partnership is enduring its most difficult period since the 1920s.
In its half-year report published in September, underlying pre-tax loss came in at £25.9 million, compared to profits of £800,000 for the same period in 2018.
This marked the first half-year loss in the partnership’s history.
Over the crucial Christmas trading period, Waitrose like-for-like sales edged up by only 0.4 per cent while John Lewis’ sales dropped by two per cent.
This prompted then-chairman Mayfield to warn that annual staff bonuses may be scrapped for the first time in 67 years.
The John Lewis Partnership has stressed that its restructuring plan was not in response to cashflow issues that have sent a raft of fellow retailers in the path of CVAs or administrations.