Commercial director, John Lewis
Likeable and friendly, Andrea O’Donnell has increasingly become the face of John Lewis’ internet expansion, taking the key role in coming up with the strategy for the partner-owned business after it made the decision to more closely align its store and web-based selling operations last year.
In a challenging environment for the department store chain, with most of its stores recording negative sales growth in many weeks this year, the importance of increasing sales via the web and integrating the channels more closely has grown.
O’Donnell has overseen a raft of initiatives over the past year, including the roll-out of the John Lewis At Home concept, which features multichannel ordering kiosks, and the bold decision to take the brand overseas with the launch of a range of international websites. This year it extended its Never Knowingly Undersold pledge to the internet, which contributed to the 54% fall in profits suffered by the chain in the first half, but was seen as essential in reinforcing the brand’s positioning.
Despite being a relative newcomer to the partnership – she joined in 2004 – O’Donnell embraces the values and culture that make it unique, but has not been afraid to lead its modernisation and expansion too. John Lewis has been a pioneer online since, with incredible foresight, it bought Buy.com in 2001, and has continued to be among the pace-setters.
But with store sales under pressure and her integration of its channels still a work in progress, O’Donnell will play a vital role in making sure John Lewis bounces back from its poor first half.