The John Lewis Partnership owns and operates two of Britain’s best-known omnichannel retail brands – department store group John Lewis & Partners and upmarket grocer Waitrose & Partners – as well as a financial services arm John Lewis Finance. Its stores are mainly based in the UK (with a number operating under licence in the UAE), but it exports products to more than 50 countries.
Operated as a social enterprise – meaning all profits are reinvested in the business – and an employee-owned company, it has around 80,000 ‘partners’ working across its various divisions.
In late 2019, JLP unveiled plans to create one unified group, including a joint executive management team, as part of its wider integration strategy to develop a single business plan and common technology platforms across both retailers.
Chair Dame Sharon White joined JLP in her current position in 2019 from Ofcom and launched a strategic review of the business in early 2020. White appointed Nish Kankiwala as John Lewis Partnership chief executive from 27 March 2023.
Announcing her five-year strategy for the Partnership in October 2020, White said the overall aim was to return the business to sustainable profit by 2025, by making it a digital-first retailer while also expanding the business beyond retail.
Inflationary pressures added extra pressure to JLP’s performance in its latest financial year to 28 January 2023 (FY2022) and the new mantra for 2023 is “cost out, margins up and customer focus”. It has set itself the new target of a further £600m of cost savings by 2026, as it once again ‘steps up’ its transformation.
Kankiwala has told employees that “the way the partnership did business would have to change to make it more efficient and affordable, and that action would have to come at pace”, according to an update in The Gazette, the retailer’s weekly internal magazine, first seen by the Financial Times. His comments come on the back of JLP having to fend off reports that it was considering ending its 100% employee ownership. See strategy