Timing is an important aspect for any business leader, and it is worth sparing a thought for Sharon White, who became chair of John Lewis and Waitrose in September 2019. Low-cost supermarkets have taken market share from the Waitrose operation, and the continued expansion of Amazon was hurting the John Lewis stores so that profits had fallen to a low of £123 million, when they had been over £360 million 4 years previously.
This was before COVID-19 hit. Since then, White has taken the decision to close eight of the 50 John Lewis stores — most notably the flagship store in Birmingham that cost £35 million and had only been open for 5 years.
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