September 24, 2023

John Lewis’ former boss said it would be “tragedy” if the retailer lost ownership of employees.

Andy Street said the department store owner “let go” of his soul.

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John Lewis plans to overhaul its partnership structure, meaning it is owned and operated for the benefit of its 74,000 employees, to raise up to £2bn.

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Planning ahead: Chair Dame Sharon White believes investment is needed to return to a sustainable footing

Chair Dame Sharon White believes the money is needed to get back on a sustainable footing.

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But critics say diluting her partnership model would be devastating to staff. Street, who ran the retailer from 2007 to 2016, told the BBC yesterday that the group, which also owns Waitrose, is one of the “most valued, loved and trusted retail brands in the UK”.

That’s because ministers will face pressure this week to support a bill that could “save” businesses.

White’s hands are bound by restrictions on how mutual companies can raise capital, meaning John Lewis can’t ask employees for investment.

The bill, due to be introduced on Wednesday by Gareth Thomas, chairman of the parliamentary group on mutual investment, would allow firms to attract investors without giving up employee ownership rights.

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