John Lewis 'tears up rule book' with new chair White

Sharon White

Even in an industry where surprise hires have, strangely, become less surprising, Sharon White’s appointment as chair of the John Lewis Partnership, succeeding Sir Charlie Mayfield, is a leftfield choice.

Even in an industry where surprise hires have, ironically, become par for the course, Sharon White’s appointment at John Lewis is a leftfield choice.

White, who has spent the past five years as media regulator Ofcom’s chief executive, has no direct retail experience – but that’s not so unusual in today’s market when so many in retail are looking beyond the familiar for answers to the challenges they face.

However, she also has very little experience of working in a commercial environment and is not used to the relentless trading climate of retail businesses, though in 2017 she took a step outside her public sector background to nab a seat on the board of Barratt Homes, which is chaired by Tesco’s John Allan.

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