John Lewis names executive director, Pippa Wicks joins from Co-op Group
John Lewis Partnership announced Wednesday that Pippa Wicks is joining its department stores chain as Executive Director. She’s joining from the Co-operative Group where she was Deputy Chief Executive. She’ll start her new role in August.
Her time spent at the Co-op will have given her plenty of exposure to a retail operation run along very different lines to a privately owned or publicly listed company, which makes her a good fit for John Lewis. The Co-op is owned by its millions of member while JLP is owned by its staff, known as Partners.
It's an important appointment for the department store chain that has been through some volatile times in recent periods, including the exit of its former top executive, Paula Nickolds, who left in January and who Wicks will largely replace.
Wicks will be responsible for “trading, merchandising, marketing and developing propositions and services for John Lewis shops and johnlewis.com".
Company Chair Sharon White said “she brings a wealth of experience of leading and developing businesses that deliver brilliant products and services to customers, both online and in stores. Pippa has an exceptional track record, including at the Co-op Group which, as a membership organisation, shares similar values to the Partnership in terms of the commitment to the communities we serve.
“John Lewis and Waitrose are two of the most loved brands in the UK, and the Partnership the largest social enterprise. As we emerge from the pandemic, there is tremendous opportunity for John Lewis to play an even bigger role in people’s lives. I am confident that under Pippa’s leadership the brand will continue to thrive.”
Wicks herself conceded that she joins during “extraordinary times in society and in retail”. She added: “As the biggest employee-owned business in the UK and one of the biggest in the world, there is an opportunity to provide both exceptional service for customers as well as really meaningful work for Partners.”
But outside of all the bold hopes for the future, she will have to face a situation in which the retailer has struggled for a while, particularly in its interiors department, even though fashion and beauty have been more buoyant.
This new appointment forms part of a seven-strong executive team and follows James Bailey joining as Executive Director of Waitrose in April.
The company said Simon Coble will also continue in his role as Trading Director of John Lewis, reporting to Wicks.
As well as working at The Co-op, she began her career as a senior manager with strategic management consultancy Bain & Company and then went on to be Group CFO of Europe’s largest textile and clothing manufacturer, Courtaulds Textiles, for seven years. She then became CEO of FT Knowledge and then in 2003 she joined AlixPartners, a global management consulting and advisory firm. There she co-founded the firm’s European operations and took on a number of interim CEO and COO positions at both UK and European companies.
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