John Lewis appoints new CEO; home sales consistent; reformats Horsham store

Department store retailer John Lewis Partnership has announced the appointment of Nish Kankiwala as its new Chief Executive.

Nish Kankiwala has been a non-executive director of the John Lewis Partnership since April 2021. He is a former Chief Executive of Hovis and has held senior roles at Burger King and PepsiCo. Nish will take up the new Chief Executive role on 27 March and remains a member of the Partnership Board.

Sharon White, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, will, as now, be fully accountable for all aspects of the Partnership’s performance, purpose and approach to pursuing a better way of doing business.

Sharon White said: “I’m delighted that Nish is to be Chief Executive. Since joining the Board in 2021, Nish has developed a deep understanding and appreciation of the Partnership model and has provided counsel on our transformation. He will be able to supercharge this in his new role while protecting the Partnership’s ethos.

“Nish and I will work closely to ensure the Partnership thrives for another century. The new structure allows me to focus on the preservation of the Partnership model and our distinctive character, on the strategy for the Partnership and our big commercial choices. Nish will draw on his significant transformation experience to drive performance and profitability day to day.”

Nish Kankiwala said: “It’s a great privilege to be appointed as Chief Executive following two rewarding years on the Partnership’s Board as a non-executive director. I am looking forward to playing an even fuller part in the transformation of the Partnership, to be a modern business loved by customers and treasured by our Partners.”

John Lewis has also reported a slight uptick in sales by 0.2% to £4.94bn, while overall Partnership sales, including Waitrose, were down 2% to £12.25bn in its unaudited results for the year ended 28 January 2023. Group loss before tax was £234m, down from a loss of £27m last year, largely due to property write downs.

John Lewis Trading operating profit fell by £82m to £676m, due to trading dynamics and inflation, partially offset by cost savings.

“After two challenging years for our shops, with Covid enforced closures, followed by Covid restrictions for our Partners and customers, we saw a pleasing return of footfall (up 34% like-for-like on last year) and sales to our shops this year. In online, we continue to see strong growth in our App, with traffic to the App up 13% in the year. Over a quarter of online sales are now through the App,” John Lewis said.

“Home has been relatively consistent for the last four years at 27%. The strength of our highly curated mixed category offer helped us offset trading headwinds in certain categories like Technology – where the Covid boom in home technology sales has subsided – and larger Home purchases where we saw a pull back from customers due to the cost of living climate.”

Furthermore, John Lewis has revealed its newly redesigned store layout in Horsham, moving from an existing ‘at home’ format to a one stop destination for fashion, beauty, tech and home design. This is part of a trial testing a series of new concepts and services for John Lewis customers.

The newly redesigned 47,000sqft store is one of five co-located with a Waitrose shop, with around 50% of Waitrose customers already shopping in the John Lewis next door. The new look provides existing Partners with an opportunity to upskill and has created several additional jobs.

The store itself has been designed to better reflect the local community it serves and respond to its needs via a new layout. A host of free services such as personal styling and nursery and sleep appointments have been introduced where customers can tap into the impartial advice from its expert Partners. It has also relocated the Click and Collect service and extended its operating hours.

John Lewis has installed a concept for ‘Sleep’, with its experts advising that customers need to spend at least 10-20 minutes on a mattress that they believe is right for them, so it has created a relaxed environment that is conducive to a great night’s sleep. A citrus scent, calming sleep sounds and neutral painted walls have been introduced to enable customers to test and make their mattress decision in the best conditions.

Jack Howe, Branch Manager, John Lewis Horsham, said: “We’ve listened to our local customers in Horsham and we’re thrilled they can now shop and experience a larger John Lewis offering with more departments. Early customer reaction has been incredibly positive and they love our new look.

“As shoppers return to the high street, our multi-million pound investment provides a major boost for the town centre and will attract more shoppers into the store.”

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