Mr J B Foster

Photo:Mr J Foster 1980

Mr J Foster 1980

Trevor Fry for the John Lewis Partnership archives

Waitrose, Director of Trading, Food 1977-1991

By Linda Moroney

Mr J B Foster joined the Partnership in 1956 as a salesman in china and glass at John Lewis Oxford Street. He became manager of the china and glass department at Cole Brothers of Sheffield in 1957 and at John Lewis the following year. He moved to Jones Brothers as Assistant Director in 1960; returned again to John Lewis in 1963 as a Merchandise Manager; and in 1965 held his first post as head of a department store branch when he became General Manager of Pratts.

He was appointed an Assistant General Inspector three years later but after some months returned to the selling side as General Manager of John Barnes and in 1970 moved back to Sheffield as MD of Cole Brothers. At the end of the following year Mr Foster transferred to the buying side, becoming Director of Buying, Fashions, a post which he held for the next five years; he then moved to Waitrose and became Director of Trading, Food.

At his retirement party at the Central Offices, Victoria, Mr Foster said that he could think of anywhere he would rather have worked for the last 36 years "What stands out most is the teamwork, the dedication, the overriding sense of common purpose - the decent and fair way the Partnership meticulously conducts its affairs, and at every turn such courtesy and friendliness as well as the most marvellous help and support."

This page was added by Linda Moroney on 25/09/2012.
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The Gazette (14th December 2012)

Tributes to a man of 'vigour and conviction'

John Foster, who was a key senior director at a time of significant expansion for Waitrose, has died. As Director of Trading, Food, from 1977 to 1991, his 14 years as the equivalent of today’s MD, Waitrose, saw the number of branches rise from 59 to 94 – an increase of more than 50 per cent. John Foster retired as General Inspector in 1992 after a 36-year Partnership career, which included head of branch roles in John Lewis and a Directorship of Buying in Fashions. Sir Stuart Hampson, who retired as the Partnership’s Chairman in 2007, describes John Foster as ‘an inspired leader’. “He was passionate about the need for Partnership shops to beat the competition by remaining distinctive,” he says. “At a time when Waitrose was still struggling to establish its place in the market he led the Bracknell team with vigour and conviction.” Waitrose’s Supply Chain Director David Jones – who joined the business in 1982 – recalls: “He was held in great regard. When he made his last speech at the Branch Managers’ Conference in 1991, I remember the standing ovation he got as he left the room.”

By Pam Kenworthy
On 14/12/2012