Insights & News

Succession planning with the man from Waitrose

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After 33 years with the company, Mark Price, managing director of Waitrose and deputy chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, is stepping down. He’s been at the head of the business for nine years, during which time the brand has cemented its position as a premium, quality focused retailer. At 55, Mark Price has a plan. "I always had in mind that ten years would be about the right length of time before stepping down”, he said. He’ll leave next April, focusing on new challenges, including consultancy, public speaking, and his ongoing role on the board of Channel 4.

This scenario strikes me as eerily similar to many BCMS clients. Mark Price is just 55 – around the same age as our typical client. After 33 years, he understandably wants to do something very different: most of our clients cite lifestyle and new opportunities as key reasons for seeking to leave their business. You can only lead for so long. There’s a key difference, though Mark Price had his plan, John Lewis had one too. Waiting in the wings to take his role is Retail Director Rob Collins, who the partnership describes as “a central part of the board's thinking on succession planning for some time”.

Think about that expression “succession planning”. For a major-brand business like the John Lewis Partnership, which posts £300m profits, it is part of the business lifecycle, a corporate necessity. But the principle applies to smaller businesses too.

Our advice is clear. 

Regardless of where you are in your business lifecycle, start thinking about the long-term future of your company today.

A few hours spent exploring your options now could help you refine and define your company strategy – and help you, like Mark Price, decide “the right length of time” to lead it.

BCMS runs a series of seminars for business owners around the country.

To find out more visit

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Posted Oct 2015
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