How we share power

The Partnership operates on democratic principles, sharing power with all Partners. Our first democratic council was set up over 100 years ago in 1919.

Today our democratic network of elected councils, committees and forums enables Partners to participate in decision making, challenge management on performance and have a say in how the business is run. We have over 3,000 specially elected representatives who feed into our three governing authorities - Partnership Council, Partnership Board and the Chairman, which run the Partnership.

Watch our film on how we share power in the Partnership 



The Partnership Council represents all Partners, reflecting their opinion, to ensure the business is run for and on behalf of all Partners. It shares responsibility for the Partnership’s health with the Partnership Board and the Chairman. Its role is to hold the Chairman to account, influence policy and make key governance decisions such as choosing the Trustees of the Constitution, select Board elected directors, change the Constitution with the Chairman’s agreement and dismiss the Chairman.


The Partnership Board ensures the business is run on a financially prudent basis, major policy issues are addressed and high standards of governance are maintained.

Our Board is different to most, with a mix of appointed and democratically elected Partners. As set out in our Constitution, Partners from anywhere across the business are elected to the Board. Our Elected Directors ensure Partner opinion is reflected in the direction and management of the business. They also bring special insight and knowledge of the business and participate in big decisions such as the decision on Partnership Bonus, approving Partnership strategy, major investment plans and restructuring programmes.

The Board is assisted by four Committees: the Audit and Risk Committee; the Nominations Committee; the Remuneration Committee, and the Ethics and Sustainability Committee.


The Chairman carries personal responsibility for ensuring the Partnership retains its distinctive character and democratic vitality with a responsibility for delivering the ultimate purpose in Principle 1. As the senior executive in the Partnership, the Chairman is ultimately responsible for the Partnership’s commercial performance and so twice a year appears before the Partnership Council to answer questions on our performance. The Chairman chairs the Partnership Board and leads delivery of the Partnership business plan.



Partner opinion is also enabled through our weekly in-house magazine, the Gazette, in print and online.

The Gazette was first published in 1918 and is now the UK’s longest-standing internal publication that has not changed its name since launch. The magazine was written into our Constitution by our Founder, John Spedan Lewis, as he saw knowledge and understanding of our business as one of the keys to a happier working life.

The Gazette sets its own editorial agenda and has a unique, independent role, operating separately from management, publishing both Partnership news but even more importantly allowing Partners to submit letters on any subject. Letters vary from enquiries to criticisms but vitally creates valuable, ongoing dialogue on subjects that matter most to Partners.


John Lewis Partnership Trust Limited ('the Trust Company') holds the Deferred Ordinary Shares in the capital of the Company, in trust, for the benefit of the Partners. The main purpose of the Trust Company ('the Trustee'), under the constitution, is to protect the constitution and democracy of the Partnership. The Trust Company has five Directors: the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Partnership and three Elected Directors, who are known as the Trustees of the Constitution.

The Articles of Association of the Trust Company state that the Chairman appoints both their own successor and the Deputy Chairman. This follows the wishes of the Partnership’s founder, who believed that each appointment should represent the interests of the Partnership and work to preserve its future. The Nominations Committee oversees the appointment process of the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman. The Trustees of the Constitution are elected by the Partnership Council.