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John Lewis director Pippa Wicks left business amid 'culture clash’

Sophie Smith
06 March 2023

The departure of Pippa Wicks, former Executive Director at John Lewis, came after a "culture clash" between the turnaround expert and her employer, according to The Times.

Wicks’ hard-charging management style had reportedly aggravated the partnership’s more genteel culture. The publication acknowledged that these tensions were a "key driver" behind the announcement last week that Wicks had left John Lewis after under three years.

One source reportedly said: “She was not very ‘partnership’ at all.”

She has been succeeded on an interim basis by Naomi Simcock, who previously served as Retail Director at John Lewis. Simcock will lead the delivery of the 2023 plan and priorities for the brand.

Wicks joined the business from the Co-op in August 2020 as part of a management restructure by the Chair, Sharon White, to create two separate bosses for John Lewis and Waitrose.

Wicks was responsible for trading, merchandising, marketing and developing products and services for the department store company. She could be held responsible for initiatives including replacing its almost century-old 'Never Knowingly Undersold' price matching pledge and launching its low-priced Anyday range.

At the time, Pippa Wicks said: “I am proud of the considerable transformational progress the highly talented John Lewis team has made over the past few years, especially given the difficulties caused by the pandemic. It has been a real privilege and honour to work for the Partnership, and help transform John Lewis which is one of the most respected brands in the country.”

Sharon White, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, added: "I am very grateful for Pippa’s contribution to John Lewis. She has been instrumental in reinvigorating the brand, launching our successful ANYDAY entry range, refreshing the John Lewis own brand range and repositioning John Lewis ‘for all life’s moments’. Under Pippa’s stewardship John Lewis has reported record sales and was recently recognised as the UK’s best retail brand for customer service."

The news follows Waitrose' plans for a "major revamp" of its ageing store estate. The Telegraph recently reported that the supermarket has been cutting costs to free up cash for an overhaul of its 332 stores. Sources said a complete refresh would cost up to £250 million, although the amount of money currently available is less than this.

The revamp comes as Waitrose fights to stem a decline in market share and win back shoppers. The John Lewis-owned grocer is executing the turnaround plan with American consultants Bain.

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