The John Lewis Partnership is a top ten UK retail business incorporating 26 John Lewis DepartmentStores and 197 Waitrose Supermarkets; in addition, it has a significant online shopping presencethrough Johnlewis.com, WaitroseDeliver, and Ocado, of which the partnership owns approximately20%. Further divisions of the Partnership include a direct services company (Greenbee: sellinginsurance, tickets and travel), a textiles manufacturer and a 4,000 acre farm. In the year to April2008, total turnover was £6.8 billion.In contrast to a typical PLC, where traditionally the key goal is to maximise shareholder value, thePartnership is:
‘dedicated to the happiness of staff through their worthwhile secure and satisfying employment in asuccessful business’
John Lewis Partnership Annual Report and Accounts 2008, p1.
In all, the Partnership employs approximately 70,000 “Partners” who collectively own the businessthrough shares held in trust for their benefit, where benefit is held to be “the sharing of gain,knowledge and power” (John Spedan Lewis, cited by Street, 2005).
In 2008 each partner was awarded with a bonus of 20% of their annual salary: the highest inrecent years.
The Partnership has very transparent corporate communication and it is part of themanagement’s responsibility to inform partners of the company’s activities and performance.
Partnership executives are accountable to a network of elected councils, formed of partnersfrom all areas of the business. The councils have recently voted to reduce the qualifying period fortheir non-contributory final salary pension scheme from five to three years (Finch, 2008). The councilultimately has the power to remove the Partnership’s Chairman from office.In providing partners with these benefits see Fig 1, the Partnership seeks to secure commitmentfrom its members and believes that: Figure 1. ( Source JLP CSR 2008)
“the commitment of partners to the business is aunique source of competitive advantage whichhas underpinned more than 75 years of profitable growth and a reputation amongst customers and suppliers unparalleled in the UK Retail industry”
John Lewis Partnership AnnualReport and Accounts 2008, p1
Regardless of the area of the business, value,choice, service and honesty, are seen to becrucial to the Partnership’s success. In 2007 and2008 Waitrose and John Lewis were the top tworetail companies in Vedict’s CustomerSatisfaction Index. (Verdict, 2008)