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Thursday, March 23, 2023

John Lewis considering end to 100% employee ownership – reports | John Lewis

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The John Lewis retail group, which is 100% owned by its staff, is considering diluting its partnership structure, according to reports.

Its chair, Sharon White, is in the early stages of exploring a plan to change the retailer’s mutual structure so it can try to raise between £1bn and £2bn of new investment, the Sunday Times reported.

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The report said the company would consider selling only a minority stake, as its priority would be to maintain majority employee ownership, and any outside investor would have to share the partnership’s employee-centric values.

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Any change would have to be voted on by the retailers partnership council of about 60 staff, the report said.

John Lewis did not reply to a request from Reuters for comment.

The company, which runs John Lewis department stores and supermarket Waitrose, said on Friday it would have to cut staff numbers and scrap bonuses this year, flagging an uncertain outlook as customers struggle with inflation.

White warned of job losses to come after the group posted a worse than expected full-year loss of £230m. Higher freight, energy, labour and fuel bills added £180m in costs and helped push the group into the second ever full-year loss in its history.

White apologised to staff, who are known as partners because they jointly own the business, for not paying an annual bonus for only the second time since 1953 and said the outlook remained uncertain because inflation, though diminishing, was still around and consumer confidence, though rising, remained subdued.

Reuters contributed to this report

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