John Lewis Partnership appoints Sharon White as Chairman

Thursday 6 June 2019

The John Lewis Partnership today announces the appointment of Sharon White as the Partnership’s sixth Chairman. She will take up the role when Sir Charlie Mayfield steps down in early 2020.

Since March 2015 Sharon has been the Chief Executive of Ofcom, the UK’s communications services regulator. Before joining Ofcom, Sharon was Second Permanent Secretary at the Treasury, responsible for overseeing the public finances and before that she held Board level positions at the Ministry of Justice and the Department for International Development. She has also worked as an adviser at the Prime Minister's Policy Unit and in Washington DC as a senior economist at the World Bank.

Sharon is also a non-executive Board member of Barratt Developments Plc, the UK FTSE 100 house builder and a Trustee of Sadler’s Wells Trust Ltd. She is a trained economist and studied at Cambridge University and University College London.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Sharon White has had a stellar career in a number of senior strategic and executive roles and during a thorough, wide-ranging and extremely competitive search she stood out, both for me and for the Nominations Committee, as an exceptional candidate. I believe she has the vision, leadership, drive and flair to steer the Partnership through its next phase.  

“I readily recognise that Sharon is not the conventional retail choice. But these are not conventional retail times, nor is the Partnership a conventional company. Sharon is an inspirational leader with the personal and professional skills to ensure the Partnership continues to innovate and change while at the same time retaining and strengthening our distinctive character and democratic vitality.

“I look forward to welcoming Sharon to the Partnership around the turn of the year and to working with her during a thorough handover. I will step down at a time to be confirmed but likely to be in early 2020, depending on Sharon’s start and a handover period.”  

Sharon White, Chairman designate, said: “It is a great honour to be asked to succeed Charlie as the sixth Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership.

“I am a passionate believer in the Partnership: Partners working together for each other’s wellbeing with the confidence to invest for the long-term and a focus on delivering for our customers in a rapidly changing retail environment. John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners are not merely British retail icons, but also a model of a better way to do business.

“In my current role, my vision has been to ensure that consumers in fast-moving markets get high quality, reliable services at fair prices, from thriving businesses they can trust. Social purpose and commercial success flourish best together, which is why I am looking forward so much to working with Partners as we move ahead together.”

Sharon's basic pay will be £990,000.


john lewis partnership

The John Lewis Partnership ( owns and operates two of Britain's best-loved retail brands - John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners. Started as a radical idea nearly a century ago, the Partnership is now the largest employee-owned business in the UK, with 83,900 employees who are all Partners in the business and share in its profits. The Partnership operates on strong democratic principles, which means that every Partner has a say in how the organisation is run. The business has annual gross sales of over £11.7bn, 400 shops and a leading online business. Its commercial strategy is focused on differentiation rather than scale, through investment in innovation and Partner led service.

Sharon White

Sharon White has been the Chief Executive Officer of the UK’s communication regulator Ofcom since March 2015.

After reading Economics at Cambridge University and attaining a Masters degree from University College, London, Sharon began her career at HM Treasury before moving to the post of First Secretary at the British Embassy.  She subsequently took on a role as Prime Minister’s Advisor on Welfare Reform in the Downing Street Policy Unit and then moved to become Senior Economist on Poverty Reduction and Economic Management at The World Bank.

Prior to taking on the role as CEO of Ofcom, Sharon carried out a number of senior roles within UK Government over a 12 year period including, Second Permanent Secretary and Director General, Public Spending, HM Treasury, Director General, Law, Rights and International at the Ministry of Justice, Chief Executive Officer for the Criminal Justice System in the Office for Criminal Justice Reform and Director, Policy for the International Development Department.

Sharon is also a non-executive Board member of Barratt Developments Plc, the UK FTSE 100 house builder, a Trustee of Sadler’s Wells Trust Ltd and is a visiting fellow of Nuffield College, University of Oxford.

Sir Charlie Mayfield

Charlie Mayfield became the Partnership’s fifth Chairman in March 2007. He joined the Partnership in March 2000. Before becoming Chairman, he was responsible for the Partnership’s business strategy and business development for three years, followed by two years as Managing Director, John Lewis.

Charlie began his career as an officer in the Scots Guards. He joined SmithKline Beecham as Marketing Manager for the Lucozade account in 1992, moving to the post of Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Co in 1996, working with consumer and retail organisations with particular reference to e-commerce.

Charlie is Chair of the Productivity Leadership Group and is the President of the Employee Ownership Association. He is also a Trustee of Place2Be, a Trustee of the British Museum and the Non-Executive Chairman of QA. Previously Charlie was the Government-appointed Chair of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills from 2010 to 2016, Chair of the British Retail Consortium from 2014 to 2016 and was a Director of FabIndia and London First.

Charlie was knighted in 2013 for services to business. He has an MBA from Cranfield. He received an honorary doctorate from Loughborough University in 2013 and an honorary doctorate in Science from the University of Reading in 2014.


John Lewis Partnership

Clayton Hirst,
Partner & Group Head of Corporate Affair
            tel: 07947 708167          
Sarah Henderson,
Partner & Senior External Communications Manager
tel: 07764 676036


Citigate Dewe Rogerson

Simon Rigby
tel: 020 7638 9571