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Executive Search Case Study – John Lewis

Updated: Jan 16, 2019

The Brief

True North were engaged by leading retailer John Lewis to partner them in a search for a new tier of senior management for their Online business, including Head of Online Category Management and Head of Online Delivery and Customer Experience. Separately, True North was also retained to undertake a detailed research project to help John Lewis with their international growth plans.

The Challenge

Online is firmly established as an integral part of John Lewis’ core business and there was a need for the team to upscale and bring on key resources to be able to facilitate the continued pace of growth and remain at the cutting edge of best practice within multi-channel e- Commerce.

As a senior trading role, the individual for the Head of Category Management needed to have extensive P&L management experience to drive top-line sales and achieve the growth turnover targets. There was also a recognised need for succession planning and to provide long-term career opportunities, so John Lewis crucially needed an individual who could grow into the Head of Online role in the longer term.

As a customer-centric role, the Head of Online Delivery candidate needed extensive experience in running and developing a multi-channel e-Commerce business and the ability to innovate and develop the online proposition as John Lewis planned to move onto the ATG platform over an 18-21 month period.

Finally, to remain at the cutting edge of best practice, research into how other online and multi-channel businesses have structured their international growth required the provision of a definition to a Head of International role, example job descriptions and suitable benchmark candidates.

The Solution

As this was a new tier of management, True North began with extensive market mapping to give clarity in terms of title, responsibilities, KPIs, salary benchmarking, target markets, experience and skills and aspirations and drivers for individuals at this level. The results of these discovery channels helped provide insight on how both roles would fit into John Lewis’ business, the responsibilities that would fall within each remit and how to drive maximum value from them. It also included our ideas for target companies in terms of relevant industry sectors and best-in-class e-Commerce propositions.

The results produced a list of individuals, who were then screened further against John Lewis’ competency requirements, to produce a long list for initial interview. Formal interviews narrowed down the candidates to a shortlist who all underwent True North’s online psychometric testing, before a second round of interviews for those still meeting all criteria.

In terms of the research project, True North provided research into the international role, sample job descriptions, appropriate target companies and information on comparative structures.

About True North

True North advise and build the leadership and management teams of some of the world’s most innovative and fast growth technology enabled businesses. We also work with corporates undertaking ambitious change and transformation.

For more information about this project or our other services please contact Norman Burden or email us at