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Head of External Communications

John Lewis Partnership
£121,000.00 - £170,000.00 Annual
Closing date
20 Apr 2024

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Job Details

Our Purpose

Working in Partnership for a happier world - our shared Purpose that guides us in everything we do and inspires 3 important principles; happier people, happier business, happier world. The John Lewis Partnership is a truly unique business, one that seeks to make a positive difference to the lives of everyone.

At a glance:
  • Salary - We have a budgeted salary of between £130,000 - £150,000
  • Contract type - This is a permanent position
  • Working pattern - This is a blended working role, therefore your time will primarily be split between working from home and the London OR Bracknell Head Office. However, there will also be an expectation to visit other locations as the need arises.
About the role:

A great opportunity has arisen for a Head of External Communications to join the Partnership on a full time, permanent basis. As the Head of External Communications, you will play a pivotal role in bringing our brilliant brands and products to life to help contribute to our commercial success, while looking after the reputation of the Partnership.

The External Communications Team is responsible for all aspects of the external engagement for the Partnership; its two main brands John Lewis and Waitrose; as well as John Lewis Financial Services and our emerging rental home business.

The External Communications Team is central to the Partnership's success as the conscience of the business and a champion of our brands. All done while ensuring our unique way of doing business shines through in our communications and campaigning so our employee-ownership model is a competitive advantage.

Reporting to the Director of Communications, the role oversees brand and lifestyle PR, Media Relations, Sustainability and Purpose PR, Public Affairs and Financial and Strategic Communications teams. The leads of the Public Affairs and Financial and Strategic Communications teams report directly to the Communications Director, while they form part of the External Communications Team day to day.

Key responsibilities:
  • Inspire and lead the External Communications team to ensure we continue to have a high performing, creative and innovative function that supports the business

  • Ensure the Communications team works effectively with other areas of the business to achieve maximum impact, commercially and reputationally

  • Work closely with the brands to amplify and deepen customer marketing activity and help elevate our messaging

  • Bring this to life across multiple fronts through a corporate and brand communications and engagement programme, focusing on brand initiatives, corporate news, celebratory feel-good moments and campaigns, supported by a drumbeat of positive storytelling

  • You will achieve this while working to mitigate potential risks and issues, managing a busy media relations function

  • Ensure external communications and engagement activity reaches a broad range of audiences, managing a complex set of stakeholders with different needs

What will you be doing?
  • Leading, mentoring and motivating the External Communications Team, ensuring we maintain high standards, encouraging innovation and creativity

  • Prioritising, coordinating and sequencing campaign activity in partnership with our brands, to ensure it has maximum impact, showing discipline in what messages are delivered and when

  • Working closely and collaboratively with other teams in Communications and key teams across the Partnership

  • Advising and providing counsel to senior leaders and your team on communication matters related to the reputation and profile of our brands and the Partnership

  • Ensuring the External Communications team regularly uses insights and measurement to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of its work

  • Implementing communications and engagement strategies aligned with priorities of each area of the business

  • Developing and maintaining a network of external stakeholders such as journalists, analysts and influencers
Essential skills you'll need:
  • Significant experience of running an in-house corporate and/or lifestyle External Communications Team, working for high profile consumer or retail brands

  • Established relationships with key UK lifestyle, consumer, financial and business media

  • Deep understanding of crisis and issues management with the ability to stay calm under pressure and offer sound advice

  • Excellent communication skills - written and verbal - and proven ability to work successfully with senior stakeholders

  • Creatively minded, able to come up with brilliant ideas for stories that can cut-through in a busy and competitive market

  • A coaching mentality to empower teams to do their best work

  • Excellent attention to detail and capable of working at pace on multiple projects in a high pressure environment

  • Ability to prioritise resources and budgets, showing agility if plans need to adapt

  • Knowledge of products and trends across retail categories relevant to the John Lewis Partnership (food, fashion, beauty, home, tech). Knowledge of financial services and rental property would be an advantage
Benefits of the Partnership and the role:
  • - Hybrid Working.
  • - Full-time working holiday entitlement 25 days holiday, plus public and bank holidays (this is pro-rated for part time hours).
  • - Excellent work life balance, including focus on well being and flexible working and our marketing leading equal parenthood leave Policy
  • - Defined Contribution pension scheme where your contributions will be matched by the Partnership (up to 8% of pay) and, after three years' service, you'll receive an additional Partnership contribution of 4% of pay, regardless of whether you pay in or not
  • - You'll get Partnership discount in store and online once you complete your Earning Membership period. That's 25% off in John Lewis (12% off electrical products, some exclusions apply) and 20% in Waitrose (some exclusions apply) You'll also be able to nominate someone you live with to share your discount.
  • - Simple cycle to work support scheme
  • - We're really proud of our exclusive hotels based in some of Britain's most beautiful areas and once you've been with us for three months, you're welcome to explore them
  • - Health Care cover
  • - Car allowance
- Learn more about our extensive range of exciting benefits that you could enjoy when you join us, visit -

Next Steps:
  • The application form consists of a CV upload followed by application questions. Please ensure you refresh the page each time you complete a task to ensure you complete everything that you need to in time. (If internal, check your Workday notifications and see further guidance on the PDW under "Internal application process").
  • Once you've submitted an application the next steps of the process, if successful, will include a 1st stage face to face interview (wk comm 7/5) then, if selected, a 2nd stage chemistry interview.
  • You'll be asked about any adjustments you might need to support the recruitment process. Let us know, and we'll be sure to discuss it with you.
  • Thanks for your patience in the meantime and for showing an interest in joining JLP.
We occasionally close vacancies early in the event we receive a high volume of applications. Therefore, we recommend you apply early

For internal use only:



At the John Lewis Partnership, we embrace our differences. We want you to be you. Because, well, we know you're at your best when you're free to be yourself. Being a truly inclusive employer to us means creating an environment which celebrates your contribution, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, social background, religion or belief. It's why we've set our own aim to become the UK's most inclusive business - for our Partners (employees) and our customers. We firmly believe that our future success lies in diversity of thought from all Partners and it's integral in our mission to build a happier world. We welcome applications from everyone interested in working for us. And, once you're a Partner, your differences will make all the difference. Find out more about D&I in the Partnership here -


The John Lewis Partnership is the UK’s largest employee-owned business and home to our two cherished retail brands - John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners. Over the next few years, we’re looking to diversify beyond just retail into areas like Financial Services and Build to rent properties, making it an extremely exciting time to join us. We already have job opportunities aside from those in our shops, from project managers to software development, you might be surprised by what we can offer.

Our Purpose

The Partnership is on a journey, an ongoing experiment to find happier, more trusted ways of doing business and all of our Partners (employees) have a part to play. The Partnership is owned entirely in trust by our Partners meaning we’re more than employees, we share knowledge, profit and power.

By joining the Partnership you’ll be joining a unique kind of business. One that puts people before profits and looks to make a positive difference, not just to ourselves, but to the communities we serve and work with, all over the world.

It’s this shared purpose that drives us and we believe that by working together, we can help create a place with happier people, for a happier business and a happier world.

John Lewis at conference

Our Values and Democracy

Being a Partner, a co-owner in the Partnership, makes you so much more than just an employee. Because of this, it comes with a different set of responsibilities compared to working in other organisations.

As Partners, it’s our role to ensure that our democracy and business continues to thrive by asking the right questions and holding each and everyone of us to account, including our leaders. But we do so in a way that holds true to our values, treating everyone with kindness and respect, with our own integrity and with the best intentions of the Partnership’s success at heart.

It’s a powerful, unique way of doing business, a way in which we think is for the better.

It’s YOU we’re interested in

At the John Lewis Partnership, we positively celebrate diversity & inclusion, truly embracing individuals’ contributions, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, social background, religion or belief.

That’s why creating an inclusive culture is, and always will be, at the heart of our business. It’s vital for our future success.

If you read deeper into the Partnership’s Purpose – Working in Partnership for a Happier World – you’ll see that it is held up by three key pillars; Happier People, Happier Business and Happier World. Without a DE&I strategy led by our Partners, our Happier People pillar wouldn’t stand, which means we also couldn’t deliver on Happier Business or World either.

You see, our happier business first starts with happier people, enjoying worthwhile and satisfying work in a supportive environment we all help to create. We treat people with fairness, courtesy and respect, and we work with others who do the same. We create an inclusive environment and celebrate diversity with our Partners, customers and the communities we serve.

Find out more about DE&I at JLP:

John Lewis staff working in warehouse

Applying to Join Us

As an employer committed to accessibility and disability inclusion, we are committed to treating all our job applicants fairly and without prejudice. We continuously ensure our recruitment process supports individuals with any disability, whether mental or physical, and actively encourage candidates to contact us before applying to discuss what reasonable adjustments can be made to support them.

We will do as much as we can to support you with completing your application. Depending on the position you are apply for, this could involve help with the following:

  • Online tests
  • 1-2-1 Interviews
  • Group exercise / Individual exercise
  • Reading and Writing
  • Using a computer
  • Interpreting information
  • Presenting
  • And more…

For more information on the support available to you. Please visit our careers website:

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