John Lewis Partnership

Known for his calm air of authority, the debonair Charlie Mayfield, a former Scots Guard, has employed a resolute approach in dealing with the curve ball that the recession has thrown the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership.

After notching up a record year last year, the darling of the retail scene has had to innovate and adapt.

Under Mayfield’s guidance, John Lewis has found ways to cope with the stymied property pipeline - it will now open smaller department stores and out-of-town formats, including a home and electricals format called John Lewis at Home.

Mayfield has also overseen the sale of the John Lewis Partnership’s stake in Ocado to its pension fund, smoothing out the competitive relationship between the online grocer
and Waitrose.

Mayfield and his team have been stoic throughout the past volatile year as the media use both John Lewis and Waitrose as a gauge for consumer spending behaviour.

The affable but steely Mayfield, who has brought a more modern feel to the business traditionally associated with Middle England shoppers, has been willing to make the sort of changes in his top team rarely seen in the partnership as he works hard to beat the downturn. Despite the challenges, no one has questioned that the right man is at the helm.