Britain’s Waitrose names former Sainsbury’s director James Bailey as new boss

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Harpenden

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s John Lewis Partnership has appointed James Bailey, a former director of Sainsbury’s <SBRY.L>, to be the new boss of its upmarket supermarket chain Waitrose, it said on Wednesday.

Bailey, who spent 18 years at Sainsbury’s, latterly as buying director, was named as executive director Waitrose, succeeding Rob Collins who left the group earlier this year following a restructuring of the employee-owned partnership’s management.

He will start immediately, tasked with steering Waitrose through the coronavirus crisis.

The partnership said recruitment was also underway for the role of executive director for John Lewis’ department store chain and an announcement would be made in due course.

The two new executive directors will become members of the seven-person executive team under partnership Chairman Sharon White.

White is carrying out a strategic review.

Last week she warned that sales at the department stores division could crash by 35% this year in a worst case scenario for the coronavirus pandemic.

In January White said it could take up to five years to revive the partnership and that she would have to shut more shops.

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Michael Holden and Gareth Jones)