John Lewis property boss Chris Harris has resigned after a five-year stint, placing further pressure on the struggling retailer’s chair Dame Sharon White.
Harris, who held the role of property director, handed in his resignation last week, according to reports in the Sunday Times, but will remain at the firm until November.
He had played a key role in the retailer’s plans to expand into rental housing, and was the architect of a major £500m deal with investment firm Abrdn, to build 1,000 residential rental homes – the first step of its target of constructing 10,000 new homes over the next decade.
The resignation is a particular blow to boss White, who has come under heavy criticism during her tenure for a long-term period of losses at the retailer, and for considering outside investment to raise funds, in a decision that could have marked the end of the business being employee owned.
Last month, White marginally won a vote of confidence in her leadership, but saw partners voice a lack of confidence in previous decisions.
This followed annual losses of £234m posted in March, a the firm struggled under the weight of inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, with the retailer announcing that it anticipated further job losses down the line.
“As we need to become more efficient and productive, that will have an impact on our number of partners. That’s a massive regret to me personally,” White said at the time.
February had already seen executive director Pippa Wicks leave after less than three years in the position, one of a number of changes in the executive team.
John Lewis did not respond to a City A.M. request for comment.