John Lewis chief targets profitability by 2026

Under pressure John Lewis Partnership chairman Sharon White aims to return the retailer to profit before 2026 and has told its staff she also wants to reinstate their bonus scheme.

Following three years of losses, White’s 2021-introduced five-year plan would “get the partnership back to sustainable profit”, she promised.

On the retailer’s recovery plan, she added it would create “a broadly based business with brilliant retail at the core, built on excellent customer service, quality and ethics”.

In a speech to members of the Employee Ownership Association, White said bonuses would be “paid when affordable”.

While the retailer is confident it expects to make a profit before 2026, the outlook for its annual bonus at its department stores and Waitrose supermarkets remained unclear.

White’s role was brought into question last month when representatives on the employee-owned partnership council voted against her performance over the past year. However, she has since been backed to continue her recovery initiatives.

As well as concern over profits, White’s plans to bring in external investment have sparked concerns over its staff ownership structure.

She explained the plan could require external investment but stressed its employee model was not being abandoned, saying: “Employee-ownership is a given. What makes us special is not incidental to being a partnership. It’s because we’re a partnership.”

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