John Lewis Partnership has named Sharon White – former secretary at the Treasury – as its sixth chairman, replacing Sir Charlie Mayfield.
She is expected to assume the role in early 2020 when Mayfield steps down.
The group, comprising John Lewis and Waitrose, said White’s basic pay will be £990,000.
She has held the position of chief executive at communications services regulator Ofcom for the last four years, and before that oversaw the public finances as second permanent secretary to the Treasury.
White commented: “I am a passionate believer in the partnership: partners working together for each other’s well-being, with the confidence to invest for the long term and a focus on delivering for our customers in a rapidly changing retail environment.
“In my current role, my vision has been to ensure that consumers in fast-moving markets get high-quality, reliable services at fair prices, from thriving businesses they can trust.
“Social purpose and commercial success flourish best together, which is why I am looking forward to working with partners as we move ahead together.”
Mayfield added: “I readily recognise that Sharon is not the conventional retail choice. But these are not conventional retail times, nor is the partnership a conventional company.
“Sharon has the personal and professional skills to ensure that the partnership continues to innovate and change, while at the same time retaining and strengthening our distinctive character and democratic vitality.
“I will step down at a time to be confirmed but likely to be in early 2020, depending on Sharon’s start and a hand-over period.”