Partnership Council

The Partnership Council is the democratically elected body that represents Partners as a whole and reflects their opinion. It is the voice for ensuring that the business is run for and on behalf of Partners.

Partnership Council meeting
Partnership Council meeting

Partnership Council shares responsibility for the health of the Partnership and entrusts management of the Partnership to the Partnership Board which delegates its management authority to the Chairman. The Council has an important role in influencing Partnership policy and how our profits are spent, particularly on things that affect Partners directly, like pay, pensions and discount policies. It has the power to discuss, to ask questions, and to make recommendations on any subject and elects five directors to the Partnership Board.

The Partnership Council delegates its work for holding divisional Managing Directors responsible for the delivery of divisional business plans to the John Lewis and Waitrose  Divisional Councils. Any concerns arising from those bodies are escalated via the Partnership Council to the Chairman, who in turn holds the Divisional Managing Directors to account. The Partnership Council's democratic function at local level is conducted within Forums and PartnerVoice, which are also democratically elected.

The Partnership Council holds the Chairman to account for leadership of the business in line with Partnership principles, and in particular, Principle 1. The Council has the ultimate power of dismissing the Chairman if he fails to fulfil his responsibilities. The Chairman appears before the Council twice a year to report and answer questions on his running of the Partnership.

Hear Partner Carl Barrett talk about his experience as a Partnership Councillor.

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Trustees of the Constitution

One of the Partnership Council's duties is to elect three Trustees of the Constitution. They are responsible for deciding the constituencies for Council elections and for ensuring the elections are fair and that the ballot is secret. The Trustees also act as Directors of John Lewis Partnership Trust Ltd. The Chairman and members of the Chairman's Management Committee can not be Trustees of the Constitution.

Members and elections

The Trustees divide the Partnership up into constituencies, and new constituencies are created as and when necessary, when shops are opened or closed.


Each constituency usually elects one or two Partners as its Council members (Partnership Councillors). Any Partner may stand and vote in Council elections, which are held every three years by secret ballot, except Partners appointed to the Council by the Chairman.


During each term the Council elects its President. Anyone may be elected President except the Chairman and Deputy Chairman.

Chairman's appointments

The Chairman may appoint holders of particular Partnership posts to the Council. Currently they are the Director of Communications and General Counsel and Company Secretary. The aim of these appointments is to make sure that the Council benefits from the full participation of senior management and that it has access to specialist knowledge. Members of the Board are automatically members of the Council.

Council meetings

The Council usually meets four times a year, but may also meet whenever it wishes, and when the Chairman or the Trustees of the Constitution ask it to meet.

Any Partner who is free to do so may attend any meeting of the Partnership Council, unless the Council rules otherwise for a particular occasion. People who are not Partners may attend only with the President's permission.