John Lewis to axe a further 1,500 head office jobs in cost-saving plans

John Lewis is to axe a further 1,500 jobs at its headquarters in central London as the UK retailer continues to look for means to cut £300 million in costs and prepare its operations for a digital-centric era.

The company has also confirmed today that Patrick Lewis, the group’s finance director since 2015 will be leaving.

Sharon White, chairman of the partnership, said that losing partners was “incredibly hard as an employee-owned business” but added that “we must be agile and able to adapt quickly to the changing needs of our customers”.

The Financial Times reports that the latest round of cuts follows a cull of 1,800 jobs when the group decided against reopening eight stores following the end of the UK’s first national lockdown in June, with some redundancies associated with the outsourcing of the group’s IT functions.

The cuts are part of a cost-saving plan drawn up before the pandemic and announced by Dame Sharon’s predecessor, Charlie Mayfield in October last year. Their implementation, which will be completed by April next year, was delayed by Covid-19.

John Lewis has also shored up its balance sheet by paying off expensive debt, selling some store freeholds, cutting bonuses for partners to historic lows and closing its generous final salary pension scheme.

Mr Lewis will be succeeded as finance director by Bérangère Michel, currently executive director of customer service and a former finance executive at Royal Mail.

“Patrick told me a while ago of his wish to leave the partnership to seek new opportunities. I’m very grateful to him for agreeing to stay until we’d been able to identify a successor,” Dame Sharon added.

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