Troubled John Lewis hires ex-Hovis boss Nish Kankiwala as first managing director
The John Lewis Partnership has appointed a chief executive for the first time as chair Sharon White battles to transform the 95-year-old retail giant.
Nish Kankiwala, 65, the former boss of Hovis, has been promoted to the company, which owns the John Lewis department store chain and Waitrose supermarkets.
The appointment comes just days after White, 55, said she found it “quite difficult to recruit men” and faced a backlash for hiring and promoting women.
Best job: Nish Kankiwala (pictured) has been promoted to chief executive of the John Lewis Partnership, which owns the John Lewis department store chain and Waitrose supermarkets
Speaking at an event to mark International Women’s Day, she said she had received complaints for trying to “rebalance” the retailer away from its masculine “command and control” culture.
White is looking to revive the fortunes of the John Lewis Partnership after two years of losses.
The company made a profit of £146m in 2019-20, but lost £517m in 2020-21 and £26m in 2021-22. Another loss for 2022-23 is to be feared as it reports its annual results today.
White has closed 16 loss-making stores during the pandemic, but continues to face rising costs.
He has already reported losses of £99million for the six months to the end of July.
Kankiwala was hired after a two-year stint as a non-executive director, as well as senior roles at Burger King and Pepsi.
White will now be “fully responsible” for the partnership model and its “big business choices”.
The new chief executive “will draw on his extensive experience in transformation to drive performance and profitability on a daily basis”, she added.