Change at stores group

Nickolds to step down from helm as John Lewis sales slump

John Lewis

Change at top of John Lewis

Paula Nickolds is leaving her role as managing director of John Lewis partnership, severing a 25 year career with the department store chain.

Sources suggest she resisted a management shake-up announced back in October.

Ms Nickolds, the first woman to run the business, was due to become executive director of brand, heading marketing, service and digital innovation across the group.

The announcement of her departure came with figures showing gross sales for the Christmas trading period were down 1.8% on last year to £2.2 billion.

In a further setback the Partnership is warning that employees may not receive their usual bonus. The board will decide next month whether it is prudent to make the payment.

“The decision will be influenced by our level of profitability, planned investment and maintaining the strength of our balance sheet,” it said.

John Lewis cut its staff bonus last year to 3% of annual pay, the lowest level in 66 years and well shy of the 18% paid out in 2011.

Outgoing chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield described Ms Nickolds as “an outstanding partner and leader” who had played a central role in the development of John Lewis & Partners over the last 10 years in a variety of senior positions.

paula nickolds
Paula Nickolds

“After some reflection on the responsibilities of her proposed new role, we have decided together that the implementation of the Future Partnership structure in February is the right time for her to move on and she will leave the Partnership with our gratitude and best wishes for the future,” he said.

Future Partnership will be in place from the start of February, when Ofcom boss Sharon White will become the partnership’s sixth chairman.

For the seven weeks to 4 January Waitrose & Partners gross sales (excluding fuel) were £1.03bn, down 1.3% on the same period last year (due to shop closures) but up 0.4% on a like-for-like basis.

John Lewis & Partners gross sales were £1.13bn, down 2.3% on the same period last year and down 2.0% on a like-for-like basis.

Waitrose & Partners online sales increased by 16.7% and in the seven days to Christmas online grocery orders were up 23.4%. John Lewis & Partners online sales increased by 1.4%.

See also

Worst year for retailers

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