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John Lewis boss: We're an alternative to communism

Values: John Lewis Lady Sharon White Chair

John Lewis boss: We are an alternative to communism – Dame Sharon White complains about performance as staff fear losing bonus

Values: John Lewis Lady Sharon White Chair

Values: John Lewis Lady Sharon White chair

Dame Sharon White, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, has complained about the store group’s lagging performance, fearing staff will lose out on a bonus this year.

White said the company, which owns department stores and Waitrose supermarkets, needs to become more profitable and is “not having enough commercial success”.

Speaking in an interview broadcast on Radio 4 last week, just days after the end of the Christmas commercial frenzy, she said the values ​​of partnership were still an integral part of the band.

“We have a constitution,” White said. “We are only formally permitted to make sufficient profit – not to maximize profit – to move the partnership forward. This may sound very grand, but it is to make the world happier.

“We were created as an alternative to communism. I don’t know if people who shop at Waitrose or John Lewis really appreciate that. This idea is that you are much more than a profit.

John Lewis reduced its losses to £26m in the year to January 2022, from £517m 12 months earlier.

Industry sources believe John Lewis may have benefited from a late surge in demand.

But nervous staff will have to wait until March to find out if that was enough to land them a payment.

White said: “This is a difficult time for the whole retail business. We are in a very, very competitive market. A market that has only become more competitive thanks to Covid and now with strong inflationary pressures, with rising labor costs and customers with far more choice as to where they spend their silver.

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