- AffiliationJohn Lewis Partnership
- 2020 Rank30
Dame Sharon White, a former civil servant, was appointed the chair of the John Lewis Partnership, the beloved British retail empire best known for the department store John Lewis and the upmarket supermarket Waitrose, in 2020. Since then she’s presided over a painful transition for the business, closing stores and cutting the workforce. Last year she cut the annual bonus for the company’s employees—the owners in the business’s partnership model—for the first time in its history, and for 2020 it announced its first ever annual loss: $704 million before tax. White attributed that loss largely to write-downs and restructuring and has set out the company’s transition, moving toward digital and targeting non-retail businesses—including rental housing—which she says will make up 40% of profits by 2030, and by mid-2021, sales at both Waitrose and John Lewis were rising. Meanwhile, she has also pioneered shared leave benefits in the U.K. retail sector—including paid leave for any employee who experiences a pregnancy loss.
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