The brand new head of the John Lewis Partnership has warned colleagues extra retailer closures and job losses lie forward except its monetary efficiency improves.
Sharon White, who ran the media-to-telecoms regulator Ofcom till taking up as partnership chairman on Tuesday, used her first speech to high managers to advertise a larger “moral and environmental” strategy.
Ms White additionally demanded a drive for variety so the employee-owned firm would turn out to be extra “reflective of society”.
Of its 81,000 workers – often called companions – simply over 15% are from ethnic minority backgrounds.
The partnership, which contains John Lewis department shops and the Waitrose grocery store chain, has endured troubled occasions alongside a lot of the retail sector over the previous few years.
It closed 12 unprofitable supermarkets in 2019 with the lack of 1,100 jobs.
Its much-lauded bonuses have been minimize for six consecutive years, to three% of wage for 2018, whereas companions have already been warned there might not be a payout when 2019’s award turns into due this March.
The partnership has been slashing prices to assist account for the spending slowdown – most just lately via a shake-up of its group administration – following a festive season that noticed gross sales back down.
Ms White made her remarks on the group’s Odney Membership facility in Berkshire as she assumed the function of chairman – succeeding Sir Charlie Mayfield.
Her speech to colleagues, leaked to The Guardian, raised the spectre of additional cuts with out the return of profitability wanted to spend money on enhancements.
She warned of “tough choices about shops and about jobs” and urged there was additionally extra to do to fulfill the obligations anticipated of a enterprise of its dimension – for purchasers and companions alike – on points corresponding to variety and tackling local weather change.
She stated: “We must be proudly owning the moral and environmental agenda. I feel in 2020 the partnership values are extra essential than ever.
“Greater than 10 years since monetary disaster and as a rustic we’re nonetheless asking: is enterprise doing its function to create society, good jobs and respectable pay?”
The partnership is because of launch its annual outcomes on 5 March.