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John Lewis chair Sharon White pledges ‘sustainable’ profit before 2026

Sharon White

John Lewis Partnership chair Sharon White has promised the retailer will return to profit by 2026.

In a speech to members of the Employee Ownership Association yesterday, White also revealed staff bonuses would only return “when affordable”.

Staff bonuses were scrapped last year for only the second time since 1953 due to losses of £234 million.

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The comments follow three years’ worth of losses by the department store, resulting in a five-year plan launching in 2021 to “get the partnership back to a sustainable profit”.

“It aims for a broadly based business with brilliant retail at the core, built on excellent customer service, quality and ethics, White said. “Significant focus in the last three years has been on improving the business fundamentals.”

Recently, White’s performance as chair was questioned when representatives on the employee-owned partnership council voted in favour of her.

As a result, she explained at the Employee Ownership Association yesterday, that the plan could require external investment.

However, she ensured its employee model was not going anywhere, claiming: “Employee-ownership is a given.”

“What makes us special is not incidental to being a partnership. It’s because we’re a partnership.”

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