Paula Nickolds is to step down from her role as managing director of the John Lewis Partnership, after the retailer issued a profit warning which cast the payment of annual staff bonuses into doubt.
Nickolds will relinquish her role on the board in February after a 25-year stint with the company. She became managing director in January 2017 and was due to be appointed executive director of brand for John Lewis and Waitrose next month as part of a re-shuffle in the partnership's management structure.
Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Sir Charlie Mayfield, said: "After some reflection on the responsibilities of her proposed new role, we have decided together that the implementation of the future partnership structure in February is the right time for her to move on".
Addressing the company's warning that annual bonuses may not be paid out, Sir Charlie said: "The partnership board will meet in February to decide whether it is prudent to pay a partnership bonus.
"The decision will be influenced by our level of profitability, planned investment and maintaining the strength of our balance sheet".
The news comes after the partnership warned that profits “would be significantly lower" than 2019, following a drop in overall sales for the seven weeks to January 4, 2020.
Sales in home and electrical products at John Lewis stores fell by 3.4 per cent and four per cent respectively, while like-for-like sales for the seven week window fell two per cent.
However, there was significant upward trajectory in Waitrose online sales, which increased by 23.4 per cent in the seven days to Christmas compared to the same period in 2018.