United Kingdom

Sainsbury's hires ex John Lewis boss Paula Nickolds to head clothing and homeware

Sainsbury's has hired the former boss of John Lewis to take charge of its clothing and homeware operations - after she was sacked from the chain last year.

The supermarket giant said Paula Nickolds, 48, will take on the role of general merchandise and clothing commercial director from June.

Ms Nickolds was ousted from department store chain John Lewis last January after 25 years, after she failed to improve the retailer's profits.

The role will see Ms Nickolds lead Sainsbury's general merchandise, Argos, Habitat and Tu clothing operations, taking over from Mike Luck who will leave the company in the summer after a handover period.

She received an almost £1million payout following her exit from John Lewis last year.

Ms Nickolds said: 'I'm excited to be joining Sainsbury's. It is a retailer with fantastic heritage that is trusted by customers for its great combination of quality and value.

Sainsbury's said Paula Nickolds (above), 48, will take on the role of general merchandise and clothing commercial director from June

'It's an important and dynamic time for the retail sector and I am thrilled to join the team for the next phase of growth and innovation, as well as the opportunity to make a difference to millions of customers' lives through the much-loved Argos, Habitat and Tu brands.'

Simon Roberts, chief executive of Sainsbury's, said: 'I am delighted that Paula is joining us, she is a highly respected, talented and experienced retail leader.

'I am certain that under her leadership, our brands that deliver - Argos, Habitat and Tu - will continue to delight our customers and support everything we are doing in food.

'Paula brings deep experience in product, brands and commercial leadership and she has a passion for understanding and delivering for customers.'  

Ms Nickolds joined John Lewis's flagship Oxford Street store in 1994 working in the haberdashery and rose up the ranks through fashion and home. 

 Ms Nickolds was ousted from department store chain John Lewis last January after 25 years, after she failed to improve the retailer's profits

Ms Nickolds will lead Sainsbury's general merchandise, Argos, Habitat and Tu clothing operations, taking over from Mike Luck who will leave the company in the summer

She was due to take up a newly-created 'executive director of brand' role across John Lewis and Waitrose in 2020, but the partnership said it was 'time she moved on'. 

Her departure came just three months after Waitrose's managing director was forced to step down following a restructure designed to cut costs and boost the brand amid a slow-down in sales.   

Mrs Nickolds held one of the most powerful and coveted jobs in British retail after taking the helm of the department store in 2017. 

The 48-year-old started her career in the haberdashery section of the chain's Oxford Street store before joining the partnership's management board in 2013.

Her long career with John Lewis saw her work as head of brand development, as well as commercial director, a role which she took on in 2015.

After her promotion to the board in 2013, the married businesswoman became the first ever woman to run John Lewis since it was founded in 1864.  

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