Planned Waitrose and John Lewis integration must be delicately implemented to avoid disruption

Following the news that the John Lewis Partnership (JLP) plans to streamline operations by consolidating its food and non-food divisions and narrowing its senior management team, Thomas Brereton, Retail Analyst for GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“JLP has stated that aligning the two fascias will “sharpen focus on the customer” as well as making internal decision-making processes quicker. However, the core driver of this arrangement – which involves reducing its senior management head office roles from 225 to 150 people and the departure of Waitrose MD Rob Collins – is clearly centered on reducing costs, with JLP estimating that the move will result in a cost saving of £100m over time.

“While employee reductions are always a difficult decision for retailers, JLP should be lauded for the attempt of reducing costs with minimal further impact on consumers, having already closed a net of c.10 stores over the past two years. However, the long-term impact of running a unified strategy for two retailers with such a varied proposition is questionable, and the creation of new roles – particularly Paula Nickolds change from John Lewis MD to Brand Executive Director – may cause initial disorientation.”

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