John Lewis: Making a profit “more stressful” than overseeing public finances

John Lewis' new Home Insurance advert has faced backlash, branded as awful and sexist
Shoppers were concerned that the damage depicted would not be covered under John Lewis' home insurance policy.

John Lewis boss Sharon White has said that making a profit is “more stressful” than overseeing public finances.

The chairwoman said that reading the weekly sales update every Sunday night for John Lewis and Waitrose was “more stressful than the days of figuring out if we spend the taxpayers’ money responsibly or not”.

The retailer is reliant on the profit it makes from selling goods due to its employee-owned model.

READ MORE: John Lewis online sales surge alongside skincare, air fryers & tents

As a mutual, John Lewis Partnership cannot tap external backers for cash.

“Your income is from the taxpayer [at the Treasury] and you’re accountable for that. At John Lewis we can only spend the money we make from our customers,” White said.

White was previously a senior civil servant at the Treasury in charge of public finances

She had previously worked as the Treasury’s most senior civil servant, and joined John Lewis Partnership just weeks before the pandemic struck.

This led to 16 permanent store closures as well as job cuts across the group.

White said last year that John Lewis will aim to make two-fifths of its profits in the next decade from financial services, social housing and “outdoor living”.

“I’m not here to make the business lots of money, I’m here to make enough money to do great things,” she said.

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  1. Now she knows what its like for the partners at the sharp dept. /store level trying to achieve their targets. Even on those dark Sunday evenings the level of her personal remuneration + perks must make up for some of the stress. Welcome to retail reality.

  2. I’m really enlightened to the JLP when I here that she is not here to make lots of money ( profit for the group and partners) I would suggest she leaves via the back door as all firms need to make real money in terms of profit to invest in the business and drive growth and expansion what I read here is let’s just keep up with what we are doing and pay the bills … just not good enough

  3. This is bizarre! ‘Not here to make the business lots of money…’
    What is ‘ the Partnership’ if not a retail vehicle to share financial and other benefits with partners?
    It seems to me that the motives of Dame Sharon White are clearly altruistic and not compatible with driving a successful retail business. It seems her agenda is for social change rather than business success for the benefit of the dear folk, aka partners, of John Lewis.

  4. Ms White after years of spending taxpayers money admits actually make a trading profit is far more difficult !
    Particularly when you have zero experience of retailing and commercial business . I am still at a loss to see why JLP appointed a civil servant who will in time run the business into the deck . After paying her £1,000,000 a year to bury John Lewis ….


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