Our history

The John Lewis Partnership has a fascinating history - from the early thoughts of John Spedan Lewis to the innovative, multichannel business we are today. Read the text version of our history timeline.

1864

John Lewis opens a small drapers shop in Oxford Street. Takes 16s 4d on his first day. Find out more about John Lewis department stores.

1885

Birth of John Spedan Lewis, son of John Lewis, and founder of the John Lewis Partnership. Find out more above Our founder.

1905

John Lewis buys control of Peter Jones. Find out more about John Lewis department stores.

1914

John Lewis hands control of Peter Jones to John Spedan Lewis who sets up staff committees, the forerunners of todays Committees for Communication. Find out more about Our founder.

1918

First edition of the Gazette published, founded by John Spedan Lewis. Find out more about The Partnership.

1919

John Spedan Lewis sets up a staff council, the forerunner of todays Partnership, Divisional and Branch Councils, and introduces the Donations Committee, the forerunner of todays Committee for Claims. Find out more above Partnership Council.

1928

The death of John Lewis leaves John Spedan Lewis as owner of both stores. He converts the firm into a public company, John Lewis and Company Limited. First constitution is published.

1929

Creation of the first Trust Settlement: the John Lewis Partnership becomes legal. From now, profits are available for distribution amongst all Partners. Read about our seven principles that define how we run our business.

1937

The Partnership buys Waitrose, a chain of 10 shops.

1940

The Partnership doubles in size by buying the Selfridge Provincial Stores Group. One of which was Cole Brothers (now John Lewis Sheffield).  Find out more about John Lewis department stores.

1950

Creation of the second Trust Settlement: John Spedan Lewis transfers his remaining shares and ultimate control to the Trustees. Find out more about Our commitments.

1955

John Spedan Lewis retires as Chairman and is succeeded by Bernard Miller. Waitrose opens its first supermarket in Streatham. Find out what is truly important to the Partnership - Partnership spirit.

1963

Death of John Spedan Lewis. Find out more above Our founder.

1972

Bernard Miller retires as Chairman and is succeeded by Peter Lewis, nephew of John Spedan Lewis. Find out what is truly important to the Partnership - Partnership spirit.

1992

Waitrose opens its 100th food shop.

1993

Peter Lewis retires as Chairman and is succeeded by Stuart Hampson - Partnership spirit.

2001

John Lewis launches johnlewis.com, the online shopping site.

2007

Sir Stuart Hampson retires as Chairman and is succeeded by Charlie Mayfield.

2009

The first smaller format John Lewis at home shop opened in Poole, Dorset.

2009

Partnership Services was launched to meet Partner needs...with simple, efficient services...enabling a growing and successful Partnership.
2010 Waitrose cookery school opens its doors in November offering 25 different food and drink courses.

2011

Waitrose opens branches in the Channel Islands on Jersey and Guernsey.
2012 John Lewis opens its first flexible format shop in Exeter, Devon.
2013 The first 'little Waitrose at John Lewis' opens in Watford in April and Waitrose opens its 300th shop in Helensburgh, near Glasgow in the autumn.
2013 The Partnership's business and textile archives are re-located in October to the new Heritage Centre at Odney in Cookham.
2014 John Lewis opened a new flexible format shop in York and its first airport shop in Heathrow Terminal 2.

2017

We are now one of the UK' top ten retailers with 49 John Lewis shops (35 department stores, 12 John Lewis at home and shops at St Pancras International and Heathrow Terminal 2), over 350 Waitrose supermarkets, an online and catalogue business, a direct services company, one production unit and a farm. Go to information about the John Lewis Partnership. Read our Strategy.