John Lewis has hired a new co-owner who is also a former senior executive at the luxury retailer, the company announced on Thursday.
The decision came just weeks after the co-op announced it would be selling off its retail business, amid a fierce backlash over the retailer’s handling of the deadly train derailment in New York City.
In addition to hiring Ellen Lewis as president and CEO of the company’s new owner, the coop said the new coop will also be expanding its corporate social responsibility program.
“It’s important for us to be transparent, we want to get the word out,” John Lewis CEO and founder John Lewis said in a statement.
“I don’t want to say too much more, but we will be expanding our corporate social responsibilities program, and I am excited to be a part of it.”
The coop also announced that it would hire a board member from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), which represents thousands of builders.
A spokesperson for the NAHB said Lewis would help the group make a decision on what it will do with its resources.
Ellens and Lewis are co-founders of the family-owned clothing and accessories brand John Lewis.
They have long been close.
Lewis founded John Lewis in 1985 and became its co-president in 1993, when Lewis took over the company from his father, a former co-chairman.
During his time as chairman, Lewis helped the company grow its footprint, including opening stores in California and New York.
He served as chairman of the board of the New York Times Company and was a founding partner of the hedge fund Citadel.
Last year, he also became chairman of its consumer products division.
Lewis said in a statement that the decision to take over the business was not based on any political beliefs, but on the need to engage in a meaningful conversation with the company.
“The company has made the hard decisions necessary to achieve the growth it needs to continue to provide consumers with products that will last,” he said.
It also said that the company has spent $1.5 billion since 2002 to improve its safety, as well as to upgrade equipment.
I’ve been a consumer since I was 12 years old and I’ve had a very good experience at John Lewis.
It’s a good company, but I’m proud to be its cofounder.
Read more about the Nahb’s board member, Ellen Lewis, on its website.
With files from The Associated Press.