John Lewis partners in push for vote on flotation
Saturday 21 August 1999
A flurry of letters published in the group's weekly newsletter called for a referendum to settle the matter "once and for all". Others accused the group's directors of a "double standard", advocating the firm's commitment to democracy on one hand but failing to give staff a say on the ownership structure on the other.
The debate has been fuelled by suggestions that staff at John Lewis, which is collectively owned by its employees, could be in line for a windfall of pounds 100,000 if it were sold. However, the company says this would run contrary to its founding principles, established by Spedan Lewis in 1929, which state that the business should be collectively owned by each future generation of workers.
One employee, writing under the name "Rollerskates" in The Gazette, calls for Sir Stuart Hampson, chairman, to "put your money where your mouth is and let's have a democratic vote".
Another accuses management of protecting their own jobs. "There is a considerable groundswell of opinion among partners on the fundamental importance of being able to vote on such an issue," it claims.
John Lewis repeated comments made by by Sir Stuart last week, which said: "Let me make it absolutely clear: there will be no sell-off under my chairmanship."
"The business is not ours to sell," a spokesman said yesterday, adding that the ownership is held in trust which would require an Act of Parliament to break.
The company said there was a huge body of support within the partnership that was in favour of maintaining the existing structure. It pointed to several letters published this week from supportive staff saying that "enough is enough" and that the sale of the partnership should be put to one side.
The debate comes as John Lewis prepares to put a new version of its constitution to its central council next month. It denied it had been reworded to make a sale more difficult. "It has just been made clearer, in plain language to update the version produced 30 years ago," John Lewis said.
According to John Lewis's weekly trading figures, produced yesterday, sales in its department stores last week were up by 12.3 per cent on last year. Sales at its Waitrose supermarkets fell by 0.5 per cent due to "unsettled weather, the eclipse and customer holidays". Outlook, page 17
- 1 Autistic adults could take pure MDMA to 'reduce social anxiety'
- 2 Natalie Portman tells Harvard graduates: 'Accept your lack of knowledge'
- 3 Before you complain about your GP, this is what you need to know about actually doing the job
- 4 Father of 12 accused of raping, beating, starving and abusing his own children in US 'cult'
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: not a Mexican demon being summoned — it's gravity
People are criticising Fifa World Cup sponsors with corrupt corporate logos
Natalie Portman tells Harvard graduates: 'Accept your lack of knowledge'
University league tables: Best universities for teaching standards rank Oxford, Cambridge and Coventry among top 20
Fifa corruption live: Sebb Blatter warns 'more bad news may follow' as he clings to power
Skull found in Spain could be the world's first-ever murder victim
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
iJobs Money & Business
£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Did you know? SThree is a mul...
£55 - 65k (DOE): Guru Careers: A unique opportunity for a permanent C# Develop...