Former Tesco boss to take over from Sharon White at John Lewis

Former Tesco boss and grocery retail veteran Jason Tarry is to succeed Dame Sharon White as the new chair of the John Lewis Partnership.

It comes just a month after the employee-owned firm, which runs the department store chain and the Waitrose supermarket business, returned to profit for the first time in two years.

Mr Tarry, who spent three decades at Tesco, most recently as its UK chief executive, will take over in September – six months before the end of the current chair’s tenure. Dame Sharon is due to depart in February 2025, and will “support the transition as required”, the firm announced.

Dame Sharon has led a major overhaul, including a raft of store closures and a shift into new business areas such as housing, since joining from Ofcom in 2020. Although her turnaround plan has begun to show signs of success, she has faced criticism over her lack of retail experience, and announced her departure in October.

Last month’s results marked only the second time in the partnership’s history that workers did not receive an annual bonus.

Jason Tarry has spent the past three decades at Tesco (Reuters)

Mr Tarry said: “The partnership and its brands stand for trust, value, quality and service and it’s a great privilege to be succeeding Sharon as the seventh chairman.

“The partnership is unique and I’ve long been an admirer of the employee-ownership model, its values and partner-led customer service. This starts with a sharp focus on being brilliant retailers for customers and investing in growth.”

He will receive the same pay and terms as his predecessor, the firm said – Dame Sharon was reportedly on a deal worth around £1m a year.

Dame Sharon said: “I’m delighted to be handing over to Jason, who has a combination of fantastic retail experience with leadership through transformation.

“From my many conversations with Jason, he has demonstrated a clear appreciation for the partnership model and champions it. I look forward to welcoming him to the partnership in September and carrying out a smooth handover.”

Rita Clifton, deputy chair and chair of the nomination committee, said: “The board extends its huge thanks to Sharon for successfully leading the partnership through one of the most testing periods in its history – first Covid and then the cost of living crisis. She has faced the toughest decisions and overseen the partnership’s financial recovery.

“As the partnership moves into the next phase of its modernisation focused on our core retail business as well as future growth, we are confident that Jason will provide the kind of inspirational leadership, a proven track record in multi-channel, multi-category retail success, and a strong identification with partnership values that we are seeking in this role.”

Retail analyst Neil Saunders said: “In my view, this is an excellent appointment. It addresses the legitimate criticism of a lack of retail experience at the top table, which became a huge point of contention during Dame Sharon’s tenure.

“It also sends a clear signal that the partnership intends to refocus its efforts on the core of its business, which is exactly what it needs to do.”


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