John Lewis Partnership has appointed a chief executive for the first time in its history.

Nish Kankiwala

Nish Kankiwala

Chair Dame Sharon White has hired Nish Kankiwala, a non-executive director of the partnership since April 2021, to the role and said it will help the retailer to “thrive for another century”. 

Kankiwala, a former chief executive of Hovis who has also held senior roles at Burger King and PepsiCo, will take up the post on March 27. He brings “a wealth of experience in consumer goods and retail” that is expected to be invaluable as the retailer – which owns grocer Waitrose as well as John Lewis department stores – continues its transformation programme in challenging conditions.

His appointment came days after the departure of former John Lewis boss Pippa Wicks and ahead of the partnership’s results tomorrow.

The retailer said that White “will, as now, be fully accountable for all aspects of the partnership’s performance, purpose and approach to pursuing a better way of doing business”.

White said: “I’m delighted that Nish is to be chief executive. Since joining the board in 2021, Nish has developed a deep understanding and appreciation of the partnership model and has provided counsel on our transformation. He will be able to supercharge this in his new role while protecting the partnership’s ethos.

“Nish and I will work closely to ensure the partnership thrives for another century. The new structure allows me to focus on the preservation of the partnership model and our distinctive character, on the strategy for the partnership and our big commercial choices. Nish will draw on his significant transformation experience to drive performance and profitability day to day.”

Kankiwala said: “It’s a great privilege to be appointed as chief executive following two rewarding years on the partnership’s board as a non-executive director. I am looking forward to playing an even fuller part in the transformation of the partnership, to be a modern business loved by customers and treasured by our partners.”