John Lewis has ‘let go of its soul’, claims Mary Portas in LinkedIn row

The LinkedIn post prompted a flurry of responses from retail bosses including the chief executive of Fortnum & Mason, Tom Athron, who wrote: “Lessons for us all in here.”

Christian Haas, managing director of YO! Sushi in the UK and Ireland, added: “A superb letter Mary. Thank you for speaking on behalf of the nation and I dearly hope your words do not go unheeded.”

Dame Sharon has been battling to revive John Lewis’s fortunes as the business grapples with falling sales and large losses. Earlier this month, the mutual, which also owns Waitrose, told staff that they would not receive a bonus after posting a worse-than-expected £230m annual loss.

She has hired Mr Kankiwala, a turnaround expert and the former chairman of Hovis, as John Lewis’s first chief executive. It followed the surprise departure of Pippa Wicks, who was hired in 2020 as the managing director of the company’s department stores.

Responding on social media, Dame Sharon said: “It’s the biggest privilege of my life to be custodian of the partnership. I am here to ensure that it not only survives, but thrives for generations. I became chairman because we are a co-owned business. It is why Nish, who has been in the partnership for two years, takes up the role of chief executive on Monday.

“I love our brands. Their strength isn’t an accident of our being a partnership. It is because we are a partnership. Our partners who own the business are our greatest asset and our ownership of the partnership will remain.

“We’ve always been open to new partnerships with investors or like-minded companies to share in our growth. I will not rest until the partnership is restored to full health.”

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