John Lewis names new department stores chief

Linda J. Dodson

High street heavyweight John Lewis Partnership has appointed a senior executive from the Co-op Group to run its department stores.

The firm is bringing in Co-op deputy chief executive Pippa Wicks in August to oversee trading, merchandising and marketing at its John Lewis sites as retailers adapt to the “new normal” of socially distanced post-pandemic shopping.

She will succeed Paula Nickolds, who left in January with a near-£1m payout following weak sales over Christmas.

Ms Nickolds worked at the partnership for 25 years, becoming the first female managing director in the department chain’s 152-year history in 2016.

Before her departure she was due to become number two to chairman Sharon White following a management shake-up late last year that was designed to bring John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarkets closer together.

Ms Wicks will be a member of the company’s seven-strong executive team and follows James Bailey, who joined as executive director of Waitrose in April.

The appointment of new heads for both the department store and the supermarket chain suggest a partial U-turn on the restructuring plans, which were announced by Ms White’s predecessor Sir Charlie Mayfield.

Ms Wicks was a key member of the team that helped turn around the Co-operative Group after it was rocked by an accounting scandal at its bank in 2013. Her previous experience includes a decade-long stint at turnaround specialists Alix Partners. 

Ms White said: “[Ms Wicks] brings a wealth of experience of leading and developing businesses that deliver brilliant products and services to customers, both online and in stores.

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