John Lewis appoints Nish Kankiwala to new CEO role

Nish Kankiwala

John Lewis Partnership named Nish Kankiwala as its chief executive, creating a new role to drive profitability at the employee-owned retailer which is led by chairman Sharon White.

The group, which runs John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarkets, has struggled to make a profit in recent years due to the costs of developing its online offering, tough competition and uncertain economic conditions.

John Lewis is due to report annual results on Thursday. For the six months to the end of July 2022, it made a loss of £92 million.

Chairman White will retain overall responsibility for the group, which is owned by its 80,000 employees or partners, it said on Wednesday, including preserving its partnership model and making major commercial decisions.

“Since joining the board in 2021, Nish has developed a deep understanding and appreciation of the Partnership model and has provided counsel on our transformation. He will be able to supercharge this in his new role while protecting the Partnership’s ethos,” White said in a statement.

“Nish will draw on his significant transformation experience to drive performance and profitability day to day.”

Kankiwala is a former chief executive of baking company Hovis, and previously held senior roles at Burger King and PepsiCo. He has been on the board of John Lewis since 2021 and will take up his new role on March 27.

“It’s a great privilege to be appointed as chief executive following two rewarding years on the Partnership’s board as a non-executive director,” Kankiwala said.

“I am looking forward to playing an even fuller part in the transformation of the Partnership, to be a modern business loved by customers and treasured by our partners.”