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New fashion boss to lead 'step change' at John Lewis

John Lewis’s new fashion buying director Ed Connolly will “drive the growth of our fashion business”, according to buying and brand director Paula Nickolds, with new initiatives to be unveiled by the group this autumn.

As revealed on this week, Connolly will take over from Meg Lustman, the former Warehouse managing director, this August when she steps down at the end of her nine-month contract.

Connolly has been buying director for electricals and home technology since July 2011. He joined in 2004 and since then has been a buyer for fashion fabrics and haberdashery, head of buying for white goods and head of buying for consumer electronics. One of his first moves will be to meet brands.

Nickolds said: “Ed has transformed the way customers think about tech, overseeing three years of double-digit growth and taking our market share to just under 10%. It is this kind of vision, leadership and understanding of our customers that will create the step change our fashion business needs.”

Some commentators have noted the number of high-profile departures from John Lewis’s fashion team in the past year. Buying and brand director Peter Ruis left last summer to head up Jigsaw, buying director for fashion Matt McCormack returned to his native Australia to run denim retailer

Just Jeans last July and head of buying for womenswear Jo Hooper left in April and has not yet resurfaced.

But Nickolds said there was “no common thread across the recent changes”. She added: “We have a track record of spotting talent and promoting internally, and Ed’s appointment is one designed to really drive the growth of our fashion business. Meg’s appointment was announced as an interim

role. We asked her to help lay the foundations for our future approach, and she has done a great job.”

Nickolds hinted at further initiatives, to be announced this autumn, “which will illustrate our ongoing strategy very clearly”. This is thought to include a push into young fashion.

Drapers revealed in January that John Lewis had been approaching select brands to take concessions.

Separately, Lustman will succeed David Carter-Johnson as honorary chairman of charity Fashion & Textile Children’s Trust on July. She is also thought to be a contender for the role of chief executive of Hobbs, which was vacated by Nicky Dulieu in February.  

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