Employee ownership

The John Lewis Partnership is the largest employee-owned company in the UK.

The Partnership Council meets four times a year and represents all Partners
The Partnership Council meets four times a year and represents all Partners.

When our founder, John Spedan Lewis, set up the Partnership, he made it both commercial and democratic. He also signed away his personal ownership rights to allow future generations of employees to take forward his 'experiment in industrial democracy'. Our structure gives our management the freedom to be entrepreneurial and competitive in the way they run the company, while giving Partners the rights and responsibilities of ownership through active involvement in the business.

Watch a short film of Partners explaining why our business is different - Being a Partner video (2:14 minutes)

Partners are instrumental in all that we do, including helping to shape, manage and deliver our sustainability goals. A business like the John Lewis Partnership can set ambitious sustainability targets but it is only through successfully harnessing Partners' passion and energy that we can achieve engagement and participation across every aspect of our sustainability agenda.

Your Voice

The Partnership model enables Partners to use their voice as co-owners to create a better business both today and in the future. Your Voice is a Partner opinion tool which supports our Partners to share their views about our business throughout the year on a range of topics and in a number of ways. Your Voice provides every Partner with the opportunity to have their say on the extent to which we are delivering against our ultimate purpose - the framework for the Partnership model which sets out the aspiration for our co-ownership culture. There were a total of 39 questions covering topics such as wellbeing, satisfaction, advocacy and change. We will continue evolving Your Voice by providing an opportunity to voice and listen to opinion more frequently supported through technology.

The employee-owned sector

There are many businesses that are substantially or wholly owned by the people who work for them. The employee-owned sector delivers 4% of UK GDP annually and this contribution is growing.

Employee-owned businesses take a variety of forms and operate in almost every sector of the economy. They are united by an ethos that puts people first, involving the workforce in key decision-making and realising the potential and commitment of their employees. These companies are represented by the Employee Ownership Association which promotes the interests of the sector to government and other stakeholders.

To find out more about employee ownership:

  • Read about the economic contribution that employee-owned businesses make to the UK economy, through improved productivity, greater levels of innovation and more resilient performance. Download EOA (Employee Ownership Association) The Economic Case Study (PDF 157KB)
  • Explore the different models of employee ownership and get more information about their key features, governance and funding. Download the 'How to' Guide (PDF 375KB)
  • Read research by the Centre for London (CfL), identifying how to create the right conditions to support and promote employee ownership at a local level. Download the CfL Local Owners report (PDF 365KB).
  • Find out more about the 50 largest employee-owned companies - including information on revenue, productivity and ownership structures. Download the EOA Top 50 (PDF 139KB).
  • Read research by the Employee Ownership Association (EOA) and the White Rose Centre which shows the positive performance of employee-owned businesses. Download 'Employee Ownership in Britian' (PDF 376KB).
  • Read the press release Employee ownership model 'shows greater resilience' explaining published research that finds that companies owned by their employees are more resilient than conventionally structured companies, outperforming the market during the downturn and demonstrating a lower risk of business failure.
  • Read a guide to employee ownership which includes case studies of other employee-owned businesses and advice for business owners considering transferring to employee ownership. Download our guide to employee ownership (PDF size: 312KB).
  • Watch the video 'Employee Ownership, A Shared Passion', which explains how our employee owned business model operates in practice, and offers insight and advice to anyone wanting to learn more about this sort of model and its benefits. Watch the Employee Ownership, A Shared Passion video (2:45 minutes).
  • Find out more about the Employee Ownership Association (www.employeeownership.co.uk).