John Lewis axes 1,500 jobs in head office cull

The Partnership is the latest retailer to cut jobs as its department stores go into hibernation for another month

John Lewis is swinging the axe on another 1,500 jobs at head office as it battles to restore profitability and streamline the business. 

The employee-owned firm expects to save £50m from the latest round of cuts as it looks to reduce spending by £300m a year by 2022. 

The move comes four months after it said eight of its 50 department stores would never reopen following the first lockdown, affecting 1,300 roles. The mutual has about 80,000 staff. 

It also announced that finance director Patrick Lewis, who was in the running for the chairman role that ultimately went to Dame Sharon White, will leave at the end of the year after a 26-year tenure. 

Mr Lewis is the only member of the original founding family still working in the business. His great grandfather established the first John Lewis store. 

Dame Sharon has hired a string of new executives in key positions since she formally took over in March to spearhead a dramatic turnaround of the business

The retailer launched a “bold” plan last month to sell more goods online at lower prices in a bid to achieve £400m in profits over the next five years.

The mutual also plans to be less reliant on stores by moving into affordable housing and financial services, as well as branching out into garden centres. It scrapped its prized staff bonus after posting a first-half loss of £635m in September. 

Justifying the latest job cuts, John Lewis said it wanted to create “an agile and flexible head office”. It has been struggling with the broader shift to online shopping and staying competitive in an increasingly promotional market. 

“Losing partners is incredibly hard as an employee-owned business,” said Dame Sharon. “Wherever possible we will seek to find new roles in the partnership, and we’ll provide the best support and retraining opportunities for partners who leave us.”

Mr Lewis was one of the few executives who remained in post after an exodus of John Lewis lifers last year under previous chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield, including Rob Collins, the boss of Waitrose, and Paula Nickolds, who ran John Lewis. Ms Nickolds is now a senior advisor at business consultancy McKinsey. 

Mr Lewis does not have another job lined up. He will be succeeded by Bérangère Michel, executive director of customer service and former finance director for John Lewis.