John Lewis lauded for caring capitalism

March 17, 2014 7:03 pm

John Lewis lauded for caring capitalism

By Andrea Felsted, Senior Retail Correspondent

When it comes to the mutual model, one of the most successful examples is in retail.

The John Lewis Partnership, which owns John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarkets, has been lauded as both a successful retailer and a model for caring capitalism.

The John Lewis Partnership is owned by its more than 90,000 staff – or partners as they are known. Each year they receive an annual bonus, paid as a percentage of salary. This is decided by the board, based on the surplus after investment is subtracted from the final profit for the year.

While the partnership has been praised, it is not without its own issues. Over the past couple of years it has also been forced to take difficult decisions, for example cutting some management jobs at John Lewis and moving from a final salary scheme to a hybrid between a defined benefit and defined contribution scheme. This year’s bonus was also 15 per cent, compared with 17 per cent last time, while the partnership took a £47.3m charge for compensating staff who had been underpaid for holidays.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the partnership, defended the checks and balances contained in the partnership, especially in light of issues at the Co-operative Group. He said: “Our governance structure is very, very different to that of the Co-op. We are owned by our partners. We have partner representatives on our board, also [we have] non-executive directors on our board. I am very confident that our governance is in good shape and prudent shape and we are not taking undue risk of any further exposures”.

 

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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