// Waitrose hires Sainsbury’s exec James Bailey as managing director
// He will join office on Wednesday, replacing Rob Collins
Waitrose has reportedly appointed former Sainsbury’s executive James Bailey as new managing director in a bid to bolster and drive the grocer through the Covid-19 crisis.
The appointment was approved by the chairwoman of John Lewis Partnership, Dame Sharon White, Sky News reported.
Bailey will join office on Wednesday and will replace Rob Collins, who stepped down after the partnership announced a restructure in October last year.
- John Lewis may never reopen some stores post lockdown
- John Lewis sales down 17%, Waitrose up 8% in wake of coronavirus
Bailey served at Sainsbury’s for 18 years, most recently as grocery buying director.
He left the grocer in 2019 and is currently a non-executive director at several companies.
Meanwhile, White is seeking ways to alleviate the pressure brought on by the impact of the Covid-19 on Waitrose, and drafting in Bailey is reportedly one of those initiatives.
John Lewis Partnership is the largest employee-owned business in the UK, employing about 80,000 people of which 52,000 work at Waitrose.
Last week, Collins received a severance package worth nearly £900,000, while his John Lewis counterpart, Paula Nickolds, was handed just under £1 million.
It also emerged that Waitrose had recorded an eight per cent rise in sales since the end of January.
However, it is seeking ways to shore up its balance sheet, and White along with the rest of the partnership’s board have agreed to salary cuts for the next three months.
On Monday, it emerged that John Lewis Partnership was considering an outside investor to help to finance and launch a joint venture that would reduce its reliance on retailing.
It is also mulling the possibility of not reopening some of its less profitable department stores once the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.
All 50 John Lewis stores have been temporarily closed since March 23, while its Waitrose grocery stores continue to trade.