Dame Sharon White shakes up John Lewis with bold mutual structure proposal
Dame Sharon White shakes up ...
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Dame Sharon White shakes up John Lewis with bold mutual structure proposal

19 March 2023
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2 min.
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Dame Sharon White shakes up John Lewis with bold mutual structure proposal

Investing for transformation

The retail giant is known for its department store chain and Waitrose supermarkets, but recent financial results have led to the company exploring new ways to raise investment.

The firm reported a loss of £234m due to rising costs and falling sales, and is now considering a plan to change its mutual structure. This would involve selling a minority stake while maintaining majority employee ownership, with the aim of raising up to £2bn of new investment.

The chairwoman, Dame Sharon White, reportedly proposed altering the mutual structure, requiring approval from the 60-staff partnership council. The company remains committed to employee ownership and seeking partnerships for growth and transformation, despite potential job cuts to improve efficiency and productivity.

In addition to exploring changes in its mutual structure, the company has been diversifying its operations. For example, it recently entered the "build to rent" property business, and signed a £500m deal with Abrdn to build 1,000 new homes. These moves show the company's commitment to growth and transformation, despite challenging trading conditions.

The company has a rich history, having been founded in 1864 by John Lewis. His son, John Spedan Lewis founded the partnership over 70 years ago as an innovative way of doing business that included staff in decision-making.

The company has recently undergone a leadership shake-up by appointing Nish Kankiwala as its inaugural chief executive, in an effort to reverse its fortunes in the midst of challenging trading conditions. Although faced with hurdles, the company remains dedicated to employee ownership and pursuing partnerships to finance its growth and transformation objectives.

Persons4 and Companies2 in the news

Founder of the John Lewis department
1 place
Director at John Lewis Partnership
2 place
Founder of the John Lewis Partnership
3 place
Chair of the John Lewis Partnership
4 place
Abrdn plc
1 place
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