December 2023
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The sad sad saga of Dame Sharon ’empty-shelves’ White

Wednesday/Thursday blog

Time to celebrate!

On Friday 9 June, I received an email from Waitrose telling me to “Get ready to celebrate Pride”.

This email flaunted how woke Waitrose was: “It’s Pride month, and we’re looking forward to celebrating with family, friends and colleagues – and of course, delicious food and drink!

“At Waitrose and John Lewis, we’re committed to inclusion – and our LGBTQIA+ network, Pride in the Partnership, is always busy. So far this year, we’ve celebrated LGBTQIA+ History month in February and International Trans Day of Visibility in March with events and educational packs for Partners.

Copying this from the email Waitrose sent me, I was reminded of a few lines from a job ad for a Diversity, Inclusion and Equality assistant for Lincoln Community Health Services Trust which I included in an article I recently wrote for The Conservative Woman. The candidate’s responsibilities included: “Set up meetings, facilitate arrangements for EDI celebration weeks and days (to include Black History Month, LGBT+ History Month, Carers week and International Women’s Day’.

£100million down the NHS diversity drain?

I imagine all Waitrose stores will be festooned with Gay Pride rainbow banners and suchlike. Well, I guess they need something to put in their stores as the shelves seem rather empty:

Apparently Waitrose recently used an Indian IT company to ‘upgrade’ their IT systems. As usual with any IT ‘upgrade’ chaos ensued. One tech website reported:

‘A bungled system update has left the chain’s stores with a shortage of fresh produce, while customers have also reported problems using its app and securing slots for deliveries. Waitrose, which is part of John Lewis, has 329 stores across the UK.

‘Waitrose customers started reporting problems over the May Bank Holiday weekend. A system update took longer than expected, which interfered with the delivery of fresh produce.

Tech Monitor has contacted Waitrose to find out more information, but a spokesperson for the chain told the Daily Telegraph on Friday that the problem had been fixed. “We’re really sorry for the disruption that some customers faced. We’ve fixed the cause of the problem, and have regular daily deliveries going to all our branches,” the spokesperson said. “Many shops now have good availability, and we’re addressing localised issues as quickly as possible.”

Well, I went to a large Waitrose store on Monday this week and I can assure you that ‘the cause of the problem’ has not been fixed – more than half the basic everyday items I wanted to buy were unavailable. The shelves were empty.

Meet Sharon ’empty-shelves’ White

That brings us to Dame Sharon White, who I have affectionately dubbed Sharon ’empty-shelves’ White. Though here she is in a Waitrose shop which apparently had some stock on its shelves

According to Wikipedia, Dame Sharon has had a stellar career:

White worked for a church in Birmingham before joining the British civil service in 1989. She worked first at the Treasury and later for the British Embassy in Washington. She also worked at the 10 Downing Street policy unit during the Blair Government, at the World Bank, and as a director general at the Department for International Development in 2003–09 and then at the Ministry of Justice in 2009–11, and also at the Department for Work and Pensions

In December 2014, it was announced that White would be the chief executive of Ofcom from March 2015. In June 2019, it was announced that White would be stepping down from her role at Ofcom to take a position as the sixth Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership. It was confirmed that White will be awarded an annual salary of £990,000 for her role at the John Lewis Partnership, a significant increase on her previous salary, which was £341,700 according to data released by Ofcom.

Hopefully readers will have noticed that all Dame Sharon’s previous jobs before taking over at the John Lewis Partnership (which includes John Lewis and Waitrose) were in public-sector organisations where you tend to be handed huge sums of taxpayers’ money for what many of us wouldn’t describe as ‘work’. Most of the people leading British retailers and supermarkets have spent their lives in retail and have a vast amount of retail experience. As far as I can see, Dame Sharon has never had to do the difficulty job of providing anything that a customer might want to buy at a price the customer would be willing to pay.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a company bringing in a new boss with a new perspective and new ideas. And Sharon has, I believe, proposed things like destroying the John Lewis partnership structure by bringing in new investors who will want to be paid dividends every year and also building flats above or instead of stores. But before coming up with brilliant new ideas, it could be useful if the new boss could prove they were capable of successfully running the basic business for which they are responsible. However, in March 2023, the magazine Retail Gazette reported: ‘John Lewis Partnership has plunged to a loss of £234 million and admitted it could not afford to pay staff their traditional annual bonus.’

The Retail Gazette also reported: ‘John Lewis Partnership chairman Sharon White has pledged to return the retailer to profit before 2026, adding that staff bonuses would only return “when affordable”. Following three years of losses, White’s five-year plan, kicked off back in 2021, would “get the partnership back to sustainable profit”.

And Dame Sharon is quoted as saying her recovery plan would create: “a broadly based business with brilliant retail at the core, built on excellent customer service, quality and ethics”. Though from the little I have read, I believe Dame Sharon’s great plan includes swingeing cost cutting, which usually means getting rid of loyal staff so the big boss can get a massive bonus.

Go woke, go broke?

That brings us to the cliché: ‘Go woke, go broke’.

A cynic might wonder if John Lewis’s and Waitrose’s current problems are yet another example of “go woke, go broke’. After all, Waitrose boasts: “At Waitrose and John Lewis, we’re committed to inclusion – and our LGBTQIA+ network, Pride in the Partnership, is always busy. So far this year, we’ve celebrated LGBTQIA+ History month in February and International Trans Day of Visibility in March with events and educational packs for Partners.” Yet at the same time shoppers are reportedly abandoning Waitrose in droves as there’s no point going to a shop with loads of empty shelves.

A really nasty cynic might even wonder if Dame Sharon ’empty-shelves’ White is following in a new tradition of ladies such as Dame Cressida Dick at the failed Metropolitan Police, Amanda Pritchard (who no doubt will also soon be a ‘Dame’) at the collapsing NHS and Alison Saunders at the useless Crown Prosecution Service who have possibly been hired more for their wokeness and diversity credentials than for their experience or abilities. But I’m not a really nasty cynic so I would never suggest anything like that.

As for me, I visit a shop to buy stuff, not to be bombarded with the latest woke garbage being inflicted on us by shouty (IMHO) mentally-deranged minorities. So I won’t be going back to Waitrose for some time, if ever.

7 comments to The sad sad saga of Dame Sharon ’empty-shelves’ White

  • Ex JLP

    I have to say that as an ex employee who left voluntarily. I often wondered at the sanity of her appointment. Someone with no retail experience running a 40000+ retail company. In the last few years Peterborough and Watford refurbished at great expense and promptly closed Paula Nicholds removal and payoff, Pippa Wicks ditto. The appointment of a CEO that supports Dame “Empty Shelves” presumably because she can’t do the job no one else previously needed help and still the Partnership Council found her competent.

  • A Thorpe

    I wonder whether this could be the start of a bigger problem with food supplies. I don’t like the way supermarkets seem to forcing down their payments to farmers and now there is the additional pressure to cull cows, Ireland being the latest country reported today. How long before farmers are forced out of business and importing food is stopped because of the emissions in transport?

    As for Dame Sharon, I can see one of your videos on the way using the song “There is Nothing Like a Dame”. I have yet to see anything remarkable about any of the people getting gongs. I would like to see an end to it. I did see a documentary about her. She said there was some luck involved in her early years in getting a good education and she obviously worked hard to get it. But she didn’t say anything about business that showed why she has had such apparent success.

  • Paul Chambers

    She seems really lovely when i have seen her interviewed and cant help feeling she is drawing enemy fire away from the real target. Rather like the government taking the blame for the failing nhs when the chief exec glides along unmentioned.

    She is chair so i assume we should maybe ask if the board is qualified. There is a jlp chief exec who is also not a retailer but at waitrose there is also a chief exec who is fairly new to the business and comes from sainsbury’s where his background was buying. So speculating but retail being detail and from a very quick look there doesn’t appear to be a lot of experience of physical retail on the board.

    I’m no expert but as they put up the pride flags maybe it could be said they have taken their eyes off the ball. But physical retail is a tough gig and with the government looking to house all our millions of new citizens they have imported all that land JLP own must look awfully useful.

  • Carolyn

    And, of course, she couldn’t possibly have been given the job as a box ticking exercise? Black ✅, female ✅, experience and background for the job ❎. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all.

    I have nothing against the woman per se but as you pointed out there are too many jobs given to women with no qualifications appropriate to the position. We can look forward to these jobs being given to the trans people in the future. That they are trans will be the primary requisite. These companies seem to be desperate to get onto the Stonewall top 100 employers list.

  • Stillreading

    No eggs in my local medium-size ASDA supermarket again yesterday mid-morning, second time within a week. Maybe they’ve had a lot, sold them, and yesterday were awaiting a further delivery. Or maybe not. Maybe there just aren’t any eggs available. When they are on the shelves, the cost compared with those happy post- Brexit, but pre-scamdemic, days is extortionate. Then I could buy a tray of 20 basic eggs from battery hens for under £1, now eggs when available are coming in at 20p each, sometimes several pence more. I’ve no doubt we are being conditioned to exist on diets so limited that a few years hence a Gates Bugburger will be a real treat! What’s really behind all the nonsense on bird flu? I haven’t seen birds falling from the sky or lying in decaying heaps in the hedgerows. The skies are full of birds, seagulls are squawking on my roof, sparrows flock to the garden feeder, starlings continue suddenly, as of one collective mind, to swarm onto the grass verge outside my house to gobble up their preferred insect feast, then as suddenly take off again. How do they do that? Meanwhile, I heard only a few days ago on R4, that if you keep a few domestic hens to provide eggs for the family you are required by Law to ensure that they are not able to peck freely in your garden and it is illegal to feed them domestic scraps. I remember the war years when my mother did a complicated trade (certainly verboten!) with a female friend who kept chickens which enjoyed a diet of whatever was left over from the table, supplemented I believe with a minimal Gvt. grain allowance. Food of any sort, for human or bird, was too precious to be wasted and those chickens gobbled up whatever was provided. The resultant eggs were delicious. I enjoyed searching for the new-laid eggs and certainly relished eating them. My mother, who was a proficient needlewoman, was able to keep my sibling and me clothed by re-using any redundant garments available from any source, many of her own pre-war clothes included, so exchanged clothing coupons, which she could manage without, for fresh eggs. I wonder how today’s woke will manage when facing similar shortages in the future? In fact, when the full horror of CBDC is imposed upon us, I suspect we shall swiftly revert to a similar system of barter and the supermarkets will eventually find themselves redundant.

  • NoVaxxholeMe

    In the image of Dame Sharon White, in my opinion, she looks more masculine than many current English men.

    If I were introduced to her as the chief executive of the John Lewis Partnership, I would ask, “Chief executive of the Zimbabwe branch?”

    Her job progression looks patently artificial. It is as if women are being chosen for top jobs – all the better if they are black – and are then given jobs on the way up that they wouldn’t have secured by themselves, just so that they would have a CV until they are given that top job. Which, in White’s case, is the chief executive of the John Lewis Partnership – without having had any retail experience.

    Is there any aspect of life that is not being gamed by the tyrannical globalists in order to reduce the west to third world status on the way to global communism?

    The formula they are using is to replace the first with the last. That is, replace white men with Africans and women. This is being attempted even in the army and the RAF. The top three positions in the cabinet are all occupied with people born in Africa, albeit none of them are currently black Africans..

    Disgust, disust, disgust.

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