Paula Nickolds

LONDON — The British department store group John Lewis has announced the appointment of Paula Nickolds as managing director. She is taking over from Andy Street, who resigned earlier this month ahead of his bid to become mayor of the West Midlands, England.

Nickolds has been working at the company, known as John Lewis Partnership, since 1994, and is the first female to be named managing director. She started her career as a graduate trainee at the British retailer’s Oxford Street London flagship, and went on to hold a number of senior roles.

She was named the company’s buying and brand director in 2013, and her title is commercial director, where she oversees the product assortment and merchandising of John Lewis and Peter Jones retail stores.

“At a time of transformation in the retail sector, Paula’s progressive and dynamic leadership is just what’s needed for the next phase of modern retailing,” said Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of John Lewis Partnership.

The company, a British institution that sells products ranging from white goods and electronics to interior fabrics and men’s, women’s and children’s wear, has been working on a number of initiatives to refresh its retail strategy. Its motto “Never Knowingly Undersold” dates back to 1925, and the store regularly price-matches rival retailers’ deals.

It recently made a 9 million pound, or $11 million at current exchange, investment in beauty halls across several of its branches and plans to focus on introducing new brands on its shop floors such as Mac and Charlotte Tilbury. In September, it also teamed with the investment fund TrueStart to launch the Eureka Initiative, which aims to help start-ups that create innovative new products and services.

Nickolds will assume her new role as of January. Director of operations Dino Rocos will take over the managing director role until the end of the year in order to maintain a seamless customer experience during the key trading festive period, the store said.

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