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Waitrose boss Mark Price resigns to focus on Channel 4 leadership race

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After having spent 33 years with John Lewis Partnership, Price will be applying for the post of chairman of Channel 4 when Burns stands down in January 2016. And Price – who is poised to leave the company in April 2016 – is said to be the leading candidate to take over. 

He told the Evening Standard: “I’m 55 next year and thought I can’t go on and on running Waitrose forever. Coming up to my tenth year I thought it was the right time for me and obviously I can’t do Channel 4 and Waitrose at the same time.”

The deadline for applicants for the Channel 4 chairman role closes in November and Ofcom has made it clear that it intends to appoint a successor to Burns before his tenure runs out.

Ofcom had recommended that Burns stay on for an additional year, but this idea was rejected by ministers, who are believed to be considering a £1bn privatisation of Channel 4.

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John Lewis chairman Charlie Mayfield hailed Price’s “long and distinguished career”, saying his leadership of Waitrose had been an “outstanding success”.

While Price was “pursuing new opportunities”, he would remain “a passionate advocate of the partnership and its ownership model,” Mayfield added.

On Price’s successor, Mayfield said retail director Rob Collins has been a central figure in Waitrose’s management team for a number of years and has been a key part of the board’s thinking on succession planning.

“Rob Collins has been a central figure in Waitrose’s management team for a number of years and his strong leadership skills and operational success have ensured that he has been a central part of succession planning for some time,” Mayfield said. “I’m confident that he will make the step-up to the managing director role quickly and effectively.”

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