Waitrose boss Mark Price is leaving the John Lewis-owned supermarket chain to head Channel 4.
The announcement from John Lewis follows on from a week of discussions between Channel 4 and Price regarding the possibility of him stepping up from his position as his deputy chairman. He had been tipped as the leading successor to current chairman Lord Burns who is due to step down on 27 January.
The 54 year-old will step down from his position as managing director of Waitrose and deputy chairman of its parent company, the John Lewis Partnership. He is expected to depart in April, marking an end to his 33 years at the employee-owned retailer.
Nicknamed the “Chubby Grocer”, Price has served as Channel 4’s deputy chairman since July 2013 and in his new role he will be responsible for deciding the future of the broadcaster which could be on the way to a £1bn privatisation.
John Lewis chairman, Sir Charlie Mayfield, hailed Price’s “long and distinguished career” with the company and added that his leadership of Waitrose had been an “outstanding success”.
Rob Collins, Waitrose’s retail director, will take over from Price. Mayfield said Collins had been a central figure in Waitrose’s management team for a number of years and that he was “confident that he will make the step-up to the managing director role quickly and effectively”.
Ofcom had recommended that Burns stay on for another year however the idea was rejected by ministers, who are reportedly considering a £1bn privatisation of the state-owned broadcaster.