John Lewis chair faces criticism but survives employee confidence vote

10th May 2023 | Jack Oliver

John Lewis chair Dame Sharon White has survived a vote of confidence from the retail group’s members amid growing pressure to turn the business around.

In a separate vote, however, John Lewis members, called partners, expressed their unhappiness over her management within the last year.

John Lewis staff own a stake in the business and elect councillors who undergo democratic processes relating to the management of the company. The confidence votes were non-binding but provide a litmus test over employee satisfaction.

Dame White has previously sparked discontent over suggested plans to sell part of the business, meaning that John Lewis would no longer be entirely employee-owned.

She took the position of chair in 2020, a year in which the retailer posted its first ever annual loss of £517m.

After posting further losses last year, the retailer is looking for ways to return to growth, including with the development of residential schemes on John Lewis and Waitrose sites.

Waitrose, who is owned by John Lewis, is also under pressure from cheaper supermarkets as consumer budgets are squeezed.


Looking for more retail news? you might find these interesting