Dame Sharon White to leave John Lewis after shutting stores, scrapping staff bonuses and suffering heavy losses | The Sun

AFTER three bumpy years as chairwoman, Dame Sharon White is to leave the JOHN LEWIS PARTNERSHIP, barely making a dent in her turnaround plans.

John Lewis said Dame Sharon will step down in 2025, which will make her the shortest-serving chairman in the retailer’s 160-year-history.

 Her predecessor, Sir Charlie Mayfield, was in the post for 12 years.

As a former senior staffer at The Treasury and head of the regulator Ofcom, Dame Sharon was criticised for being unqualified to manage the retail group.

Since taking charge, she shut 16 department stores, scrapped staff bonuses and suffered heavy losses at both John Lewis and Waitrose.

Almost all of the top 200 managers also left, leading to a brain drain. Around 4,000 jobs in total have been lost.



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Her plans to generate 40 per cent of the group’s profits outside of retail in housing developments and garden centres were also stalled.

And this month, she admitted plans to generate sustainable profits of £400million would be delayed by another two years to 2026.

Retail expert Richard Hyman said: “Sharon was able to empathise with the touchy-feely bit of John Lewis’s social contract but she didn’t realise that it only exists if it can flog stuff too.”

Food rise rate below 10%

STRAPPED shoppers can relax — as the rate of food price inflation fell below ten per cent for the first time in more than a year.

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Food price inflation was at a record 19.7 per cent in May, with the poorest households — who spend more of their income on groceries and other essentials — hit the hardest.

But as wholesale costs have decreased, supermarkets have been lowering the price of pints of milk, margarine, fish and vegetables as they wage a price war with their rival discounters.

Shoppers switching to budget-friendly Aldi and Lidl and trading down to cheaper own-brand ranges have cushioned themselves from the rate of grocery price inflation. But a weekly food shop still costs far more than it used to.

New figures from the British Retail Consortium show food inflation eased to 9.9 per cent in September, down from 11.5 per cent in August, marking the fifth month of a falling rate of price increases in a row.

Grocery inflation is at its lowest level since August 2022 and the month-on-month drop is the first in two years — while non-food retail inflation also eased.

The high street saw inflation at 4.4 per cent in September, down from 4.7 per cent in August, in figures according to the BRC.

Overall shop price inflation fell to 6.2 per cent, down from 6.9 per cent in August.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said she expected shop price inflation to “continue to fall”.

She said “fierce competition between retailers” helped to lower food prices, adding: “Customers will have found lower prices this month.”

UK home prices in 5.3% fall

HOUSES have dropped by £14,500 in value over the past year as prices fell for the first time since the aftermath of the financial crisis.

The average house price is 5.3 per cent cheaper than it was last September, a report by Nationwide found. The September slump is the first time prices have fallen across the country since 2009.

Property experts have blamed mortgage costs for dampening the market, with a 30 per cent drop in the average number of mortgages approved in August.

Properties in the South West have suffered the biggest drop, falling by 6.3 per cent to an average price of £301,600.

Robert Gardner, the chief economist at Nationwide, said higher mortgage rates mean a first-time buyer with a 20 per cent deposit would now have to spend 38 per cent of their take home pay on monthly mortgage costs, well above the usual 29 per cent.

B-stocks & shares

GERMAN sandal brand Birkenstock will be valued at more than $9billion (£7.4billion) in an upcoming stock market listing in New York.

After a boost from their Barbie film feature, Birkenstock said it would sell its shares for between $44 and $49 each, following investor support.

The shoe’s punchy price suggests revived enthusiasm for company listings in the US. London has the lowest amount of listings this year on record.

Pendragon flies

SHARES in car dealership Pendragon rose by another five per cent to 25p yesterday after one of its trio of bidders sweetened its takeover offer.

American groups Lithia and AutoNation and Swedish group Hedin are all interested. Lithia said it is now offering £397million for just the UK showrooms in a deal that would roll-out Pendragon’s technology to the US.

Pendragon had already agreed to a £280million deal with Lithia to sell all of its UK showrooms and keep its software business.

ANALYSTS at Citi have good news for drivers after predicting oil could fall to £70-a-barrel next year.

Pump prices are set by the cost of wholesale oil, which has touched $95-a-barrel after supply cuts by Russia and Saudi Arabia.

‘Spy' boss alert

COMPANIES have been warned about “excessive” monitoring of staff amid a growing trend to use software to track their attendance.

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The shift to remote working and subsequent drive to get employees back to offices has led to some firms monitoring activities including screenshots of staff’s social media, webcam footage and audio.

Emily Keaney, deputy commissioner at the Information Commissioner’s Office, said: “We will take action if we believe people’s privacy is being threatened.”


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