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Is the John Lewis Partnership Model about to change?

Geoff Riley

21st March 2023

The John Lewis Partnership is thinking of changing its much vaunted staff-ownership model. The potential plan, apparently the brainchild of the Chair, Dame Sharon White, is to seek funding for a majority stake to invest in data analysis and Waitrose's supply chain.

It's not guaranteed to take place but the firm are looking for £2bn, although ditching 70 years of history, and the brand image associated with it, might have adverse effects for the business too. You never know perhaps reducing executive pay over the preceding 20 years might have helped...

Please read: John Lewis considers plan to change staff-owned structure (BBC News)

A detailed analysis here in the Guardian of the current state of play regarding John Lewis, with the prevailing view seemingly that the company, like many, faces challenging times but different views about how to tackle this.

Please read: John Lewis: would ending staff ownership help the retailer, and is its boss’s strategy failing? (Guardian)

For many analysts, it seems that the group have rather lost sight of its core business and the move to end staff ownership might damage both staff morale, the brand and remove its USP. However, it's clear that it's in a bind - however, the notion that the company wants to "expand into financial services and build to rent above Waitrose stores", strikes me as singularly unimaginative and redolent of a business in decline.

Watch this space - and see how this story is going to unfold in the months ahead.

Geoff Riley

Geoff Riley FRSA has been teaching Economics for over thirty years. He has over twenty years experience as Head of Economics at leading schools. He writes extensively and is a contributor and presenter on CPD conferences in the UK and overseas.

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