John Lewis Partnership abandons plans for single brand boss

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The John Lewis Partnership has abandoned earlier plans of a single brand boss responsible for both John Lewis and Waitrose.

Instead, the plan is now to have separate director roles for the companies that will be responsible for each brand’s marketing.

James Bailey, Sainsbury’s former buying director for grocery, is now joining the JLP board in a new role as executive director of Waitrose.

Bailey will have responsibility for Waitrose’s trading, merchandising, marketing and developing customer propositions for shops and waitrose.com.

Martin George, who was customer director at Waitrose, is currently the most senior marketer at the business in his role as marketing director of JLP.

John Lewis’s former Managing Director Paula Nickolds was due to take on the planned executive director of brand role in February but ended up leaving the John Lewis Partnership (JLP) just after Christmas following poor sales at the department store.

The partnership is now seeking a new executive director for John Lewis, who will have similar responsibilities for the department store. 

JLP Chairman Sharon White said: “These new executive director roles at Waitrose and John Lewis will allow us to get the best of both worlds out of our new management structure,” says the partnership’s chairman Sharon White.

“We’ll have all the benefits of bringing together activities that are best-organised pan-partnership and reducing duplication, while still recognising that there are important differences in the way you run a department store and a supermarket.”

JLP’s profits were down 23% to £122.6m in its latest annual report and it is preparing for a worst-case-scenario sales decline of around 35% at John Lewis this year.