John Lewis is handing a £1.5m payoff to Patrick Lewis, the great grandson of the retailer’s founder and the only remaining family member of the business, who is to exit in June.
Lewis, who spent more than 26 years at the group, stepped down as a finance director in December and has since been on leave after being replaced by Bérangère Michel, formerly John Lewis’s director of customer service.
His payoff includes a payment for loss of office and contributions towards legal fees as well as cash in lieu of salary, car, pension and other benefits for the remainder of his contractual notice period.
The payment comes only a year after the group underwent a board restructure that led it to spend close to £2m on paying off the former bosses of its department stores and Waitrose supermarkets – Paula Nickolds and Rob Collins – only for them to be replaced within months.
Lewis’s payoff tops the annual salary for new chairman, Sharon White, now the company’s highest-paid executive who earned just over £1m last year, despite taking a 20% basic salary cut for three months.
White earned £947,000 in basic salary and that was topped up by £115,000 in payments in lieu of a pension and £5,000 in other benefits including a car allowance and healthcare. She did not receive an annual bonus, along with thousands of shop-floor staff, and her total pay package was about a quarter less than Mayfield received in his final year. Mayfield did not receive any payoff.
The staff-owned group, which employs more than 80,000 people, reported its first-ever full-year loss last month and has been laying off staff and closing stores. While the group’s supermarket’s have fared well during the pandemic, its department stores have suffered from months of closures and an acceleration towards buying online.