John Lewis Partnership announces changes to Executive Team

Wednesday 29 April 2020

The John Lewis Partnership has appointed James Bailey as its new Executive Director, Waitrose. He joins from Sainsbury’s where he was Buying Director for Grocery and will start in the Partnership today.

Recruitment is also underway for the role of Executive Director, John Lewis and an announcement will be made in due course.

The new roles build on the changes to the management structure unveiled last year to create a single partnership. This involved replacing the separate management boards for John Lewis and Waitrose with a single executive team and bringing together functions such as customer service, strategy, finance, supply chain, property and HR. 

Sharon White, Partner & Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “I am thrilled that James is joining us. He has had an exceptional 18 years at Sainsbury’s, across finance, strategy, convenience and commercial and then latterly as Buying Director for Grocery with accountability for more than half the company's turnover and three times the size of Waitrose. His varied background outside of retail also makes him a great cultural fit for the Partnership and I am looking forward to working with him.   

“These new Executive Director roles at Waitrose and John Lewis will allow us to get the best of both worlds out of our new management structure. We’ll have all the benefits of bringing together activities that are best organised pan-Partnership and reducing duplication while still recognising that there are important differences in the way you run a department store and a supermarket.”

James Bailey said: “I'm delighted to be joining the Partnership. It's a business I've admired for a long time for its relentless focus on quality and service and it's defining purpose as an employee-owned organisation. Waitrose is the UK's best supermarket and it's a privilege to join the team.”

The two new Executive Directors will become members of the seven-person Executive Team under the Chairman. Their roles are: 

  • Executive Director, John Lewis - with responsibility for trading, merchandising, marketing and developing customer propositions for shops and
  • Executive Director, Waitrose - with the same responsibilities, including

They will also work together to develop new products and services where we see the opportunity to delight our customers and leverage the unique power of our combined brands.

The full Executive team can be found here.


Executive Team

Rupert Thomas and Simon Coble remain as Trading Directors of Waitrose and of John Lewis respectively, and will report into the two new Executive Directors.

James Bailey

James was until recently the Grocery Buying Director for Sainsbury's, where he was responsible for £16bn or half of Sainsbury's Group revenues. His responsibilities included buying, merchandising, product selection and supplier relationship management. During an 18-year career at Sainsbury’s his other roles included Buying Director for the £7bn Packaged Foods Division (2014-2016) and Buying Director for £4bn Chilled & Frozen Food business (2012-2014). Before Sainsbury’s he worked for three years in the financial industry, having started his career as a management trainee in the National Health Service for three years. Outside of retail he is an advisor to a number of scale up food and tech companies and lives in Essex with his family.

About the 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 the largest employee-owned business in the UK and amongst the largest in the world, with over 80,000 employees who are all Partners in the business. For all intents and purposes, the Partnership is a social enterprise; the profits made are reinvested into the business - for customers and Partners. John Lewis & Partners operates 50 shops across the UK (36 department stores, 12 John Lewis at home and shops at St Pancras International and Heathrow Terminal 2) as well as Waitrose & Partners has 338 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 61 convenience branches, and another 27 shops at Welcome Break locations. Waitrose & Partners exports products to more than 50 countries worldwide and has nine shops which operate under licence in the Middle East. The retailer's omnichannel business includes the online grocery service,, as well as specialist online shops including for wine and for plants and flowers. Our food business is bigger than our non-food business and our John Lewis shop sales represent less than a quarter of the Partnership’s total revenue.


John Lewis Partnership

Sarah Henderson
Partner & Senior External Communications Manager
Tel: 07764 676036