John Lewis to axe 1,500 head office jobs

The John Lewis Partnership will make 1,500 staff redundant at its head office as part of a previously announced five-year plan to return the firm to “sustainable profits” by 2025.

The company has already axed 1,400 jobs this year, after announcing that eight John Lewis department stores and four Waitrose supermarkets would be closed down.

The five-year plan aims to adapt to changing shopping habits and to get closer to customers, backed by £1 billion in investment in customer service and experience both in-store and online. But this is dependant on making £300 million in annual savings by 2022 through “operational efficiencies” throughout the business.

“A key part of our efficiency plan is to create an agile and flexible head office that is even closer to customers and frontline partners,” read a statement. “We propose to reduce the size of our head office operations by up to 1,500 roles between now and April 2021.”

The changes should save another £50 million on top of £50 million of recent efficiencies, it added.

John Lewis has head office operations in both central London and Bracknell, Berkshire. It has not confirmed where the axe will fall in terms of shared numbers.

The company also said that Patrick Lewis, executive director of finance, has “decided to leave” the company at the end of this year, following a 26-year stint with the retailer. He will be succeeded by Bérangère Michel, currently executive director for customer service and a former finance director at John Lewis.

Bérangère joined the company in 2008 and the executive team in February and has 20 years of leadership experience in finance.

As part of the changes at head office, the size of the executive team will also reduce, as John Lewis will not recruit a new executive director for customer service. Instead, those responsibilities will transfer to James Bailey, executive director for Waitrose, and Pippa Wicks, executive director for John Lewis.

Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Our Partnership Plan sets a course to create a thriving and sustainable business for the future - to achieve this we must be agile and able to adapt quickly to the changing needs of our customers.

“Losing partners is incredibly hard as an employee-owned business," she continued, adding: "Wherever possible, we will seek to find new roles in the partnership and we’ll provide the best support and retraining opportunities for partners who leave us.”

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