Our Constitution

Not many companies have a written constitution that sets out their principles, governance system and rules. The John Lewis Partnership does, for two reasons as explained below.
Our constitution book

The first is historical. The John Lewis Partnership exists today because of the extraordinary vision and ideals of our Founder, John Spedan Lewis, who signed away his personal ownership rights in a growing retail company to allow future generations of employees to take forward his 'experiment in industrial democracy'. Not unreasonably, he wanted to leave some clear guidelines for his successors, so that the values which had motivated him would not be eroded with the passage of time.

The second reason looks forward. Spedan Lewis was committed to establishing a 'better form of business', and the challenge for Partners of today is to prove that a business which is not driven by the demands of outside shareholders and which sets high standards of behaviour can flourish in the competitive conditions of the third millennium. Indeed, we aim to demonstrate that adhering to these Principles and Rules enables us over the long term to outperform companies with conventional ownership structures.

The Constitution states that 'the happiness of its members' is the Partnership's ultimate purpose, recognising that such happiness depends on having a satisfying job in a successful business. It establishes a system of 'rights and responsibilities', which places on all Partners the obligation to work for the improvement of our business in the knowledge that we share the rewards of success.

The Constitution defines mechanisms to provide for the management of the Partnership, with checks and balances to ensure accountability, transparency and honesty. It established the representation of the co-owners on the Partnership Board through the election of Partners as Directors (Elected Directors) and it also determines the role of the Partners' Counsellor.

Download our Constitution (PDF size: 1.4MB)

To fnd out more about how the Constitution came about and is integrated in our business, watch 'The Partnership Story', a film which outlines the history of the John Lewis Partnership, from the early thoughts of John Spedan Lewis to the innovative, multichannel business we are today.