Waitrose boss Mark Price quits to 'head Channel 4'

John Lewis said Price will leave in April after 33 years at the employee-owned retailer, with Rob Collins set to replace him

The boss of Waitrose has quit the John Lewis-owned supermarket chain and is said to be lined up as the next chairman of Channel 4.

John Lewis said Mark Price will leave in April after 33 years at the employee-owned retailer. Price is the managing director of Waitrose and deputy chairman of its parent company, the John Lewis Partnership.

Price is the leading candidate to take over as head of Channel 4 when Lord Burns, the current chairman, steps down, Sky News reported. If appointed, Price will lead the broadcaster through a potential £1bn privatisation.

Price, known as the “Chubby Grocer”, has been Channel 4’s deputy chairman since July 2013. Rob Collins, Waitrose’s retail director, will take over from Price.

The John Lewis chairman, Sir Charlie Mayfield, hailed Price’s “long and distinguished career” with the employee-owned retailer, 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, the John Lewis chairman said 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 for some time.

“I’m confident that he will make the step-up to the managing director role quickly and effectively.”

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

Channel 4 and Ofcom had held discussions about making Price interim chairman until a successor for Burns can be found.

Ofcom had recommended that Burns stay on for about a year beyond the end of his second term in the post, which is scheduled to conclude on 27 January. But this idea was rejected by ministers, who are believed to be considering a £1bn privatisation of the state-owned broadcaster.

Last month, a government official was photographed leaving Downing Street with a confidential document outlining plans for a potential sell-off.

Burns had put together plans examining the possibility of turning Channel 4 into a mutual, keeping its public service broadcaster remit.

Contributors

Sean Farrell and Mark Sweney

The GuardianTramp

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