By: Pramod Thomas
British Indian businessman Nish Kankiwala has been appointed as the new CEO of John Lewis Partnership in a bid to boost the company’s profitability.
He has been on the board of John Lewis since 2021 and will take up his new role on March 27.
The employee-owned retailer, which operates John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarkets, has faced financial challenges in recent years due to the costs associated with expanding its online presence, increased competition, and economic uncertainty.
Chairman Sharon White will continue to oversee the company’s overall operations and make key business decisions while also preserving its partnership model.
In his new role, Kankiwala will leverage his extensive experience in transformation to improve the company’s performance and financial results on a day-to-day basis. The company is set to release its annual results on Thursday (16), having reported a loss of £92 million for the first six months of 2022.
“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,” he was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
In a statement, White explained that Kankiwala will utilise his substantial experience in transformation to improve the company’s day-to-day operations and financial results.
Kankiwala is a former chief executive of baking company Hovis, and previously held senior roles at Burger King and PepsiCo.
Born in Surat in India and brought up in London, Kankiwala graduated as a chemical engineer. He began his career at Unilever and later joined Pepsi-Co where he became president of the soft drinks business in Europe and Africa, before arriving at Hovis in 2014.
He was the president of Burger King’s international business before taking on the turnaround of Hovis. He was chair of the bread brand and then chief executive until he stepped down last year after negotiating a sale to the private equity group Endless in 2020.
He started his career as a graduate trainee with Unilever, working in the Netherlands, France and the US.
In 2021, Kankiwala was named CEO of the Year at the Asian Business Awards, hosted by Eastern Eye.
(With inputs from Reuters)