Thursday brings results and updates from a raft of retail’s biggest names, as Next, Morrisons and John Lewis update.
But there will be extra interest perhaps in the John Lewis Partnership, which also issues interim results that day – and that’s because managing director Andy Street, who has run the eponymous department store business with flair since 2007, could soon be moving on.
Street hopes to become the Conservative candidate in the mayoral race in his native West Midlands, and it will be clear by the end of this month whether his candidature is successful.
He must have a strong chance of being selected, so thoughts naturally turn to who might succeed him at the helm of John Lewis.
Next in line at John Lewis
Any candidate for any leadership role at John Lewis must have affinity with the unique culture of the business, which is as important as commercial skills. So the likelihood must be that if Street moves on his replacement will be internal.
An entirely unscientific ring-round of industry people puts commercial director Paula Nickolds as a frontrunner.
Like Street, Nickolds has spent her career at John Lewis. She joined in 1994 as a graduate trainee and has risen through the ranks ever since. She became commercial director last year, bringing experience from fashion, home and brand roles.
Some ask whether, having been promoted so recently, it would be too soon for another move up.
However it’s part of the fabric of John Lewis to have in place support structures to enable people to succeed in the roles they are promoted into.
One to watch
Mark Lewis is also perhaps one to watch. As retail director he is responsible for stores and online after joining in 2013 to run the etail arm.
The extra responsibilities he has taken on since show he is well thought of, and experience at businesses such as eBay and Collect+ fit well with John Lewis’s ongoing omnichannel ambitions.
However his newness to the company means he may not yet be seen yet to be sufficiently ‘John Lewis’.
It is possible that John Lewis might move someone from the central Partnership board. Tom Athron has been mentioned. However he was given the post of group development director only a year ago.
Despite all the interest in what might happen if Street goes, there’s a bigger point about John Lewis which will no doubt be reflected in its results this week.
Its distinct culture means it is bigger than any one person. It means too that it can take decisions that might be ruled out of court for companies in thrall to public shareholders.
For instance it has licence to invest to ensure it continues to be at the front of the pack in meeting changing shopper expectations, as it did during the recession.
The paradox of John Lewis is that it throws up some of retail’s most individually distinctive characters but, no matter how distinctive or even occasionally egotistical they may be, it’s always one for all and all for one.
As long as that attitude remains, John Lewis should succeed whoever is at the helm.