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Former John Lewis MD gets £1m payoff
21 April 2020

John Lewis has handed an almost £1 million payout to its former managing director, according to figures released today.

John Lewis Partnership’s latest annual report document revealed that the business paid out £939,773 to Paula Nickolds, who was ousted from the department store in January.

Nickolds had worked for the business for 25 years before her departure, after failing to arrest a decline in John Lewis’ trading performance and a lacklustre Christmas. She had been due to take up a newly created position of brand director across both John Lewis and Waitrose in February but left before taking that up.

The employee-owned company said the payout was in respect of her notice period, contributions to her legal fees and career development support.

The group also confirmed an £892,362 pay packet given to Rob Collins, who had been managing director of the group’s Waitrose supermarket arm until he stepped down in October when the group’s restructuring was announced.

The payouts come after hundreds of redundancies at the business, including 400 job losses linked to the closure of Waitrose stores and the loss of 75 head office roles.

John Lewis has also furloughed 14,000 staff after closing all of its 50 stores in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

This year the company also paid out its lowest staff bonus, of 2%, since 1953 as it revealed a 23% plunge in profits for the year to 25 January.

Last month, new chairwoman Dame Sharon White – who took the helm at the firm in February – outlined a plan to return the group to profit growth, including “right sizing” its store estate and slimming down its head office.

This morning John Lewis said John Lewis sales were down 17% year-on-year since the middle of March, and down 7% year-on-year since 26 January. However online sales had spiked by 84% since lockdown.

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