The boss of John Lewis Partnership is set to face a vote of confidence over her future following criticism of the retail giant’s leadership.
Dame Sharon White, chairwoman of the business that runs the department store chain and supermarket arm Waitrose, said the group was looking to sell the stake.
However, industry leaders such as Mary Portas criticized the potential move, which would prevent the company from being fully owned by its employees.
Dame Sharon has also come under scrutiny after the business said it would not give staff an annual bonus for only the second time since 1953 and warned of possible job cuts in March after posting a £234 million loss.
Dame Sharon White, chair of the John Lewis Partnership (John Lewis/PA)
The group has looked at diversifying its operations, such as expanding into rental flats, as part of a radical strategy to return the business to long-term profitability.
On Wednesday Dame Sharon will provide an update to the John Lewis Partnership Council, a 61-member staff body elected by its employees.
The group gathered from Tuesday for a two-day meeting at the Odney Club holiday retreat in the Berkshires, owned by the business.
John Lewis will host a “Holding to Account” session at the end of the event where there will be a debate involving the Speaker.
There will then be a two-part vote on whether the council is confident of the partnership’s progress under him and whether it can then support him to take the group forward.
The vote is non-binding but can be influential as the partnership council has separate powers to dismiss the chairman as “excessive” according to the firm’s constitution.
Chris Earnshaw, Chairman of the Partnership Council, said: “Since 1919, the Speaker has held sessions with our Council to consider the performance of the Partnership. This is a regular part of our democratic process.”