Nish Kankiwala: The First British Indian Chief Executive of John Lewis

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Mumbai-born Nish Kankiwala has recently assumed the role of Chief Executive of John Lewis Partnership (JLP), a prominent UK department store chain headquartered in London. Kankiwala is the first British Indian to hold this position and has been tasked with revitalising the high street brand.

“It’s a great privilege to be appointed Chief Executive after two rewarding years on the Partnership’s Board as a non-executive director. I am looking forward to playing an even fuller part in the transformation of the Partnership, to be a modern business loved by customers and treasured by our Partners,” said Kankiwala of his new role.

JLP Chair Sharon White, who announced Kankiwala’s elevation, expressed her delight: “I’m delighted that Nish is to be Chief Executive. Since joining the Board in 2021, Nish has developed a deep understanding and appreciation of the Partnership model and has provided counsel on our transformation. He will be able to supercharge this in his new role while protecting the Partnership’s ethos.”

Sharon White further commented, “Nish and I will work closely to ensure the Partnership thrives for another century. The new structure allows me to focus on the preservation of the Partnership model and our distinctive character, on the strategy for the Partnership and our big commercial choices. Nish will draw on his significant transformation experience to drive performance and profitability day to day.”

Kankiwala’s appointment is seen as a strategic move to rejuvenate the company’s fortunes and prepare it for a new growth phase.

Experience in Global Brands

Before joining JLP, Kankiwala amassed a wealth of experience in the consumer goods and retail sectors, working with global brands. He began his career as a Graduate Trainee with Unilever and later held several commercial and operational roles. Kankiwala has also held senior positions at PepsiCo and Burger King International, where his last roles were President of Business in Europe and Africa and President, respectively.

Turning Around Hovis

Kankiwala joined Hovis in 2014, initially as Chairman and later as CEO, where he successfully led the turnaround of the bread brand. Under his leadership, Hovis transformed from declining revenues to becoming one of the fastest-growing bread brands in the UK. He sold the baker to private equity firm Endless in 2020, a move that involved significant restructuring, including selling off the majority of its milling business to focus on baking operations.

Founded by John Spedan Lewis, the John Lewis Partnership is the UK’s largest employee-owned business, with nearly 80,000 Partners. It operates two iconic brands, Waitrose and John Lewis.

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