John Lewis ‘can end 100 percent employee ownership after 70 years’


The John Lewis Partnership is investigating a plan to change its workforce model to attract investment, it has been reported.

The retail giant, which runs the department store chain and Waitrose supermarket arm, warned of possible job cuts last week when it told staff it would not be paying out a bonus after suffering a hefty loss for only the second time since 1953.

The Sunday Times said it understood that leader Dame Sharon White was in the early stages of exploring a plan to change their mutual structure to try to raise between £1 billion and £2 billion in new investment.

The sale of a minority stake could require an amendment to John Lewis’ constitution, which would have to be voted on by the partnership council, a group of about 60 employees, the newspaper reported.

Any money raised from the sale of shares would go to the business and not to employees’ pockets, the Sunday Times said.

The business was born when John Lewis opened a small textile shop on Oxford Street, London in 1864.

Hello son, John Spedan Lewis, founded the partnership more than 70 years ago as an experiment for a better way of doing business by involving employees in decision-making, according to the company’s website.

The John Lewis Partnership is Britain’s largest employee company with its retail brands – John Lewis and Waitrose – owned in trust by its 80,000 partners.

It has 34 John Lewis stores plus an outlet and 332 Waitrose stores across the UK along with its retail websites.

In a letter sent to staff last week, Dame Sharon warned of job cuts as part of efforts to “become more efficient and productive”.

The group posted a loss of £78m before exceptional items for the year to 28 January.

It represented a slump from a profit of £181m the previous year, with John Lewis blaming “inflationary pressures”.

JLP posted a pre-tax loss of £234m after factoring in additional costs such as significant write-downs on retail properties.

The update came a day after the group appointed turnaround specialist Nish Kankiwala as its first chief executive to change the governance structure.

Mr. Kankiwala will take up the role on March 27th, reporting to Chairwoman Dame Sharon. John Lewis ‘can end 100 percent employee ownership after 70 years’

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