Waitrose boss quits and plots Channel 4 role

 
Waitrose apron

Mark Price, one of the most successful executives in retailing, is quitting as the managing director of Waitrose to spend more time with his television.

I am told that Mr Price is eyeing the job as chairman of Channel 4, where he is already deputy chairman.

Lord Burns, the present chairman, is due to retire in January, a few months before Mr Price's time at Waitrose comes to an end.

As the government considers how to make Channel 4 "more commercial" - a review which could include privatisation - many believe Mr Price is ideally suited to take the reins.

I am sure the government will be considering what other roles Mr Price could usefully do - he is, after all, known to be close to David Cameron.

A peerage and subsequent government ministerial role should not be ruled out - if the chairmanship of Channel 4 does not come off.

'Turmoil'

Mr Price, who has been with the John Lewis Partnership - which owns Waitrose - for 33 years, leaves after 9 years leading the supermarket chain.

During that time Waitrose has enjoyed many years of rapid growth, outperforming the market 76 months in a row.

But recently, even this stalwart of middle class shopping has felt the chill wind of a sector fundamentally changed by the arrival of the German discounters Aldi and Lidl.

Mr Price warned of turmoil in the sector earlier this year when profits at Waitrose dipped by a quarter.

Mr Price is 55 and appears to want one more big challenge in his career.

With the chairman of John Lewis, Sir Charlie Mayfield, not going anywhere soon (and he's younger than Mr Price at 49), the head of Waitrose has decided that the grass is likely to be greener elsewhere.

Waitrose number two, Rob Collins, will take over from Mr Price when he leaves next April.

 

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