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Drapers Top 100 2016 – 6. Andy Street, former managing director, and Paula Nickolds, incoming managing director of John Lewis

Andy street, managing director, john lewis

Andy street, managing director, john lewis

Andy Street makes it into the top 10 again this year, but it may be the last time he appears on this list for a while. After 31 years at the department store chain – nine as managing director – Street left John Lewis on 28 October. He is now standing as the Conservative candidate to become the first mayor of the West Midlands.

Street’s final year in charge of John Lewis had its ups and downs, as even John Lewis was not immune to the changing retail landscape. In September, the firm revealed that operating profit fell 31.2% to £32.4m for the half year to 30 July. However, beneath the figures was a tale of investment: also in September, John Lewis cut the ribbon on two new distribution centres at its Magna Park campus in Milton Keynes, which cost £150m to build. Unveiling the new centres, Street said they would help the retailer meet its ambition of making half of its sales online by 2020.

Paula nickolds from john lewis

Paula nickolds from john lewis

His replacement, Paula Nickolds, a John Lewis “lifer”, joined the partnership in 1994 as a graduate trainee at the department store’s Oxford Street branch. Most recently, as commercial director, she has been responsible for innovation in John Lewis’s product assortment, and the look and feel of its shops. John Lewis is often revered as one of the best retailers on the high street, but it is not immune to the changing retail landscape.

Nickolds, who takes up her new role in January, faces several challenges, not least because the firm’s operating profit fell 31.2% to £32.4m for the half year to 30 July. She must increase efficiency and improve margins, which will not be easy moving into 2017. But if she can manage it, she will rocket up the rankings.

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