Waitrose and John Lewis

Top story

A former boss of John Lewis has said it would be a “tragedy” if the retailer changed its partnership model.

It follows news emerging last week that John Lewis Partnership chairman Sharon White is considering options to raise up to £2bn by selling a minority stake in the struggling business.

Andy Street, who was the MD of the department store chain from 2007 to 2016 before being elected mayor of the West Midlands, urged White to reconsider.

He told the BBC’s ‘Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg’ yesterday: “It would be a tragedy because I think John Lewis goes beyond a shop.

“You can buy the same television in other places, is the truth. John Lewis is about a way of doing business, showing the market that there was a better way almost.

“I would urge the leadership of John Lewis to think about what’s really at the heart of it and what makes it special, and hold on to that.”

Street acknowledged the company’s financial difficulties following its recent £234m loss and lack of a staff bonus but said the group needed to trade its way through the challenges.

“You have to address the underlying point. This was ever the case in the John Lewis model over 150 years, if you can’t go to the equity markets you have to trade your way through it.

“Some of the best retailers at the moment - Next, Primark, Selfridges - are proving physical retail can still do that, and that’s really the challenge to John Lewis and Waitrose.”

An analysis in The Grocer at the weekend unpicked the failures that led to a £234m loss at Waitrose and John Lewis and asked what’s gone wrong, what’s it doing to fix it and will it work.

Morning update

It’s a quiet start to the week on the markets for fmcg.

The FTSE 100 is up 0.3% to 7,429.68pts.

Early risers so far include McBride, up 7.8% to 27.8p, Hilton Food Group, up 1.9% to 696.8p, Glanbia, up 1.5% to €13.57, and Reckitt Benckiser, up 1.3% to 6,182p.

HelloFresh, Virgin Wines UK, Science in Sport and Kerry Group are among the fallers, down 2.1% to €17.43, 2% to 44.1p, 1.9% to 13p and 1.6% to €91.52.

This week in the City

Tomorrow is looking much busier as Irn-Bru owner AG Barr posts preliminaries and Ocado puts out a Q1 update, with the latest monthly Kantar grocery sales figures and the BRC’s shop price index also due out, while, over in the US, Boots owner Walgreens Boots Alliance reports Q2 numbers and spices giant McCormick also updates the market.

The big retail news of the week comes from Next, which releases its finals on Wednesday.

Property investor Supermarket Income REIT issues interims on Thursday.