Investors should consider retailers' CSR policies
Private equity firms should consider the long-term aspects and character of a business before investing in any retail operation, according to John Lewis Partnership chairman Sir Stuart Hampson.

Speaking at the Retail Week conference, Hampson said values are the new competitive battleground for UK retailers. 'Retailers need to evaluate the character of their business and what gives them a point of difference,' he said. 'And investors considering retailers should not take a short-term view for quick financial gain, because that will undermine [the retailer's] culture and values.'

Hampson explained that JLP - comprising John Lewis and Waitrose - has been built around the value it places on its partners, customers and the community. 'Values underpin all our relationships and that's what keeps our customers coming back to our stores,' he said.

Hampson said sustainability in relationships with suppliers is key. 'We've had relationships with suppliers for many years,' he said. 'For example, at John Lewis we have a relationship with the place in India that supplies our rugs, to also invest in a local school. The buying team can go out there and see how we are investing in that community as well as giving our stores quality rugs.'

He argued that other retailers should make the same commitment to suppliers for a more sustainable long-term partnership. He said: 'The National Farmers Union will only quote one supermarket that treats farmers fairly and that is Waitrose. While we welcome other supermarkets saying they will treat suppliers fairly, we haven't seen any evidence yet.'