John Lewis founder’s great grandson receives GBP 1.54 million golden handshake

By guest author Elias Jahshan from Retail Gazette

  • Patrick Lewis, great grandson of John Lewis, handed GBP 1.54m golden handshake
  • The former finance director is leaving the business in June after 26 years
  • His payoff exceeds the 2020 salary of John Lewis Partnership chair Dame Sharon White, which was just over GBP 1 million
Caption courtesy by Retail Gazette

The great grandson of the founder of John Lewis has received a farewell cheque of just over GBP 1.5 million, a sum that exceeds the annual salary of the retailer’s chairman.

According to its annual report published today, the John Lewis Partnership is handing Patrick Lewis, the last remaining member of the family in the business, a pay-out worth GBP 1.54 million.

Lewis, who spent more than 26 years at the partnership, stepped down as Finance Director late last year following a head office shake-up that led to 1500 job cuts.

He has since been replaced by Bérangère Michel, formerly John Lewis’s director of customer service.

Although Lewis has been on leave since December, his official departure date is not until June.

His golden handshake includes payment for loss of office and contributions towards legal fees as well as cash in lieu of salary, car, pension and other benefits for the remainder of his contractual notice period.

Lewis’ payoff also exceeds the annual salary package for Dame Sharon White, the partnership’s chairman, who earned just over £1 million last year despite taking a 20 % cut to her base salary for three months amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

White, who joined the retail giant just weeks before pandemic plunged the UK into a series of lockdowns, earned GBP 947000 in her base salary for 2020.

This was topped up by GBP 115000 in payments in lieu of a pension and GBP 5000 in other benefits including a car allowance and healthcare.

Along with every other staff member in the John Lewis Partnership, White’s pay did not include an annual bonus last year.

Her total pay package was around GBP 400000 less than what Sir Charlie Mayfield received in his final year as chairman.

Mayfield did not receive any payoff.

The John Lewis Partnership also spent almost GBP 2 million on paying off the former bosses of John Lewis and Waitrose – Paula Nickolds and Rob Collins – as part of a board restructure last year.

They have since been placed by Pippa Wicks and James Bailey, respectively.

The executive payments come a month after the John Lewis Partnership it posted a GBP 517 million full-year pre-tax loss – compared to profits of GBP 146 million the previous year.

Since the pandemic struck in March last year, the partnership has announced the closure of 16 John Lewis stores, affecting more than 2600 staff, and updated its transformation strategy with a focus on digital investment and repurposing existing store space.

While the partnership’s department store arm has struggled over the past year or so, its stablemate Waitrose has fared well due to its status as an essential retailer.