Change at the top for Waitrose

Mark Price's stepping down as managing director of Waitrose has raised eyebrows in the supermarket sector.


The resignation of Waitrose's Mark Price has raised eyebrows

A change in senior management at the John Lewis partnership "is rather like the regeneration of Doctor Who", said Conlumino's Neil Saunders a rarity. So Mark Price raised eyebrows this week when he stepped down as Waitrose's managing director after almost a decade at the helm. He also quit his role as deputy chairman of the John Lewis partnership, where he has worked for 33 years. He is applying to become chairman of Channel 4.

What the commentators said

So how did Price do it? For starters, "he never stopped thinking like a customer", said Ben Wright in The Daily Telegraph, often visiting shops and talking to customers. Moreover, he understood Middle England's "conflicting neuroses": it wants to eat ethically, but at the same time it doesn't want to pay too much. He managed a "tightrope-walking act": Waitrose matches Tesco on 8,500 products, thanks to its lower-cost Essentials line, but it also sells more lobster than its rivals.

Waitrose is certainly doing much better than Tesco, Asda, Morrison's or J Sainsbury, noted Kasmira Jefford in City AM. Only the latter posted an uptick in sales in recent weeks, according to new figures from Kantar Worldpanel. And sales growth at the discounters has picked up again. It's going to be a brutal Christmas in the supermarket sector.

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Andrew Van Sickle

Andrew is the editor of MoneyWeek magazine. He grew up in Vienna and studied at the University of St Andrews, where he gained a first-class MA in geography & international relations.

After graduating he began to contribute to the foreign page of The Week and soon afterwards joined MoneyWeek at its inception in October 2000. He helped Merryn Somerset Webb establish it as Britain’s best-selling financial magazine, contributing to every section of the publication and specialising in macroeconomics and stockmarkets, before going part-time.

His freelance projects have included a 2009 relaunch of The Pharma Letter, where he covered corporate news and political developments in the German pharmaceuticals market for two years, and a multiyear stint as deputy editor of the Barclays account at Redwood, a marketing agency.

Andrew has been editing MoneyWeek since 2018, and continues to specialise in investment and news in German-speaking countries owing to his fluent command of the language.