THE boss of John Lewis survived a confidence vote yesterday — but suffered a stinging rebuke over her leadership during the past 12 months.
Dame Sharon White had been braced for a stormy meeting of the retail group’s partners following its £234million loss, scrapping of staff bonuses and talk of ending employee ownership.
John Lewis boss Dame Sharon White has survived a second vote of confidence
One insider said: ‘No one in the business is happy with last year’s performance’Credit: Getty Images – Getty
In a bid to reassure staff, the chairwoman said: “I want to be absolutely categorical: the John Lewis Partnership will always be employee-owned.
“No ifs, no buts — absolutely no question of demutualisation.”
However, the former Ofcom regulator said the business could “consider external investment” if the partnership is unable to fund its strategy through its own means.
The Sunday Times recently reported that Dame Sharon has been considering bringing in an outside investor to shore up finances.
Yesterday 60 John Lewis employees, elected by their peers, gathered at the retailer’s Odney country club in Berkshire for a ballot on Dame Sharon’s stewardship.
The twice-yearly meeting has been in place since 1919 but for the first time yesterday held two votes.
Dame Sharon lost the first vote on confidence in the company’s performance over the past year.
But she won the second in support of her leadership.
One insider said “no one in the business is happy with last year’s performance”.
Acknowledging growing staff unrest, Dame Sharon said she had “profound regret” over the lack of bonuses or pay rises.
She added that she wanted to turn the meeting into “a call for unity and kindness”.
“LIFE isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain,” Dame Sharon White said ahead of the ballot on her leadership.
In her three years of running Middle England’s favourite retailer she has been struck by lightning a few times already.
The pandemic forced brutal decisions such as the closure of 16 stores, thousands of redundancies and the scrapping of staff bonuses, twice.
Now the cost of living crisis makes its upmarket retail brands seem a bit too expensive and sales are sliding.
Reaching for an investor to shore up finances, moving into housing and other non-retail areas smacks of desperation.
The firm’s best chance of success is returning to what it’s good at — great retail and bosses who are great retailers.
EUROPEAN regulators are expected to approve Microsoft’s £55billion takeover of the maker of Call of Duty next week despite UK authorities blocking the deal.
The likely green-light from Europe, as reported by Reuters, comes after Microsoft and Activision Blizzard accused the UK of being “closed for business” in a stinging attack last month.
The tech firms have hired legal heavyweight Lord David Pannick KC to fight the ruling by the Competition and Markets Authority.
COMPASS has ruled out shifting its listing to New York despite making the move to reporting in dollars.
The world’s biggest catering firm said the change was made to reduce exposure to foreign exchange swings.
Over two-thirds of its sales and three quarters of its profits come from the US.
But CEO Dominic Blakemore said: “We have no plans to list in the US.”
The UK giant yesterday reported a 37 per cent profits rise to £878million. Revenues are up a third to £15.7billion.
WETHERSPOONS had its busiest-ever Saturday on the first May bank holiday weekend — but boss Tim Martin said Brits mostly bought super-market booze a week later to watch the Coronation at home.
The pub chain’s chairman said the royal event resulted in a “noticeably quiet” day across its 769 pubs, despite record trading the previous Saturday.
Wetherspoons had its busiest-ever Saturday on the first May bank holiday weekendCredit: Darren Fletcher – The Sun
Sales were 9.1 per cent higher in the 13 weeks to April 30 than the previous year and Wetherspoons now expects profits to be at the top of analysts’ expectations.
Mr Martin yesterday railed against government red tape and planning restrictions.
He said: “A lack of understanding, among some senior politicians, about the need to encourage a successful free market economy presents a real threat to the future prosperity of the country.”
Wetherspoons has shut ten pubs over the last three months and opened one new one.
THE boss of payments firm WISE has said he will take a three-month sabbatical to look after his young children.
Kristo Käärmann, co-founder of the £5.7billion money transfer site, said he was taking time off from September to “look after the newborn and give my wife some breathing room”.
The firm offers sabbaticals on full-pay for all staff of more than four years.
Wise’s chief of technology, Harsh Sinha, will take over day-to-day running of the company.
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SHOPPERS are sending back ASOS purchases after realising they can’t afford their new swag, causing sales to dip.
They dropped by 7 per cent to £1.85billion in the six months to the end of February.
ASOS sales are dipping because customers are returning their purchases
Losses before tax have widened from £87.4million last year to £290.9million.
Chief exec Jose Ramos Calamonte says he is trying to turnaround the business “at the same time as our customers are feeling the squeeze financially”.
Inflation means they are still spending £40.84 an order — compared to £37.97 a year ago.