The John Lewis Partnership consists mainly of the John Lewis Department Stores, the UK’s largest department store group with 42 stores, and the supermarket division, Waitrose, with over 338 branches. The John Lewis Partnership employs more than 50.000 people, and all employees are co-owners of the business and are referred to as Partners and are fully involved in the running of the business and enjoy a share of the profits. In recent years, the bonus has varied between 12% and 18% and, in 2019, was the equivalent of 9 weeks pay.
There are many other significant benefits for employees of John Lewis. After 3 months service, for example, Partners are entitled to a 12% discount on purchases from John Lewis and Waitrose, which rises to 25% after 1 year for John Lewis. The minimum paid holiday entitlement is 4 weeks per year, which rises to 5 weeks after 3 years service and further long-term increases. Management Partners, as well as graduate trainees, have 5 weeks holiday from the beginning of their employment. There is a non-contributory final salary pension scheme, a life assurance scheme, and even such attractive entitlements such as subsidized holiday accommodation, ticket subsidies for the theatre and concerts and the ability to take advantage of corporate membership to such bodies as English Heritage and the Science Museum.
The Head Office of the John Lewis Division, and the Partnership as a whole, is in London, whilst the Waitrose Head Office is in Bracknell. The two head offices support, co-ordinate and develop the operations and there are many and varied job opportunities available at each site. Some of the options to consider are Buying, Sales, Distribution, Food Technology, Personnel, Marketing, Accounts, Catering and Journalism. There are also extensive Information Technology facilities, with opportunities available. As well as overseeing the financial infrastructure of the Partnership, the Head Offices look after the needs of all the employees, or Partners.
At Aylesford and Bracknell, the Partnership has two Distribution Centres, each one requiring warehouse operatives, drivers and many other categories of staff.
There are a considerable number of varied opportunities for graduates to make excellent progress within John Lewis. The Graduate Scheme can enable Partners to attain the status of Department Manager within 12 to 24 months. To apply for the Graduate Scheme you will need to have strong academic qualifications – a minimum of a 2.2 degree for some of the areas but a 2.1 for others, for example those involved in the Finance Graduate Trainee Scheme. The starting salary for those in the Graduate Scheme varies between £21,500 and £24,500, again depending on the area in which you are working.
As a student, you might also be able to benefit from an Industrial or Vacation Placement in either John Lewis or Waitrose, giving you the opportunity of gaining both work experience and earning money during your course. These placements are customarily on the shop floor but can occasionally be in one of the two Head Offices.
John Lewis Partnership is also proud of the internal training it can offer partners so that those with ability can rise within the organisation.
The John Lewis Partnership is currently in the process of introducing online recruitment into all of its branches and this will, in fact, be available throughout all of its stores by the end of June, 2017. The stated aim of the group is to have 400 Waitrose Stores by 2017 and is adding stores rapidly – 9 branches opening in 2018 and 3 more in advanced planning stages. John Lewis, Leicester, is set to open in September, 2018, a 2220,000 square foot store, with 600 new Partners being created. These will include everything from managers, catering assistants and chefs to supply chain assistants, administrators and systems support technicians; in addition, of course, to the sales assistants who helped the Partnership gain 2 retail sector awards in 2017 – Britain’s Favourite Retailer from Which Magazine and Retailer of the Year from Retail Week Magazine.
John Lewis Job Vacancies & Career Advancement
John Lewis is a UK-based retailer employing over 60,000 ‘partners’. It currently operates 26 department stores and 163 Waitrose food shops whose combined turnover exceeds £5bn annually.
John Lewis began trading in 1864 as a family-owned draper’s shop in London’s Oxford Street. However, it was not until 1929 that the John Lewis Partnership came into existence, when Spedan Lewis transferred ownership of the business into the hands of its employees. Since then the formal structure of the company has remained unchanged and has underpinned all subsequent growth. Today, John Lewis has a substantial presence across the UK, both in department stores and in Waitrose supermarkets.
The last three years have seen growth in both sales and profit for John Lewis, although set against the retail sector as a whole the growth has been relatively modest. Determination to compete led to organisational reviews in John Lewis in which the company had to make some enforced redundancies amongst its support staff. Acceleration in the growth in Waitrose in 2016 came via the acquisition of 19 stores from Safeway.
Job Pay and Benefits
Two factors dictate the size of an individual’s pay packet. The first is the external market; that is, the average rate among retail organisations, which John Lewis aims to match. The second relates to performance. Here, high performance does not trigger bonuses – instead it propels partners on to more favourable pay scales. The company believes this is a progressive, long-term approach to reward in line with its strategic objective of securing loyalty to the business from those it recruits.
John Lewis is especially proud of the benefits package for which all staff are eligible and whose collective value places it in the upper quartile of retailer reward. As an example, a manager earning £25,000 could expect benefits equivalent to £6,000. These are derived from three main components. The first is the bonus reward, which is determined by annual company performance and which is awarded as an identical percentage of overall pay among all partners regardless of rank or seniority. In 2016, it was 12% of basic salary.
The second element of the benefits package comes in the form of employee discounts. In Waitrose food shops, the discount amounts to 12% of each retail price; while staff in John Lewis stores enjoy a 25% discount on each item they purchase.
A non-contributory, final salary pension scheme represents the last element of the benefits package. John Lewis has publicly committed itself to maintaining this scheme, which is open to all new members with a minimum of five years’ service. In 2017, the company paid £72m into the pension fund.
Partners may also enjoy a range of subsidised social activities. These activities are coordinated through an elected Partnership Council and typically include trips to local shows or attractions, and participation in sports and social clubs. Among the latter there is a well-established sailing club.
Career Promotion and Development
Most positions in John Lewis are obviously in the core retail function. Yet there is a strong belief in the concept of taking people who understand the values of the business and who have the right personal skills, and putting them in unfamiliar territory. In practice, this means assigning partners to complementary posts in order to develop versatile, well-rounded individuals. Mostly this happens within each individual retail business, though there is also some movement between the two.
Graduates make up only a small number of the total partners and join a structured development programme. Initial development is centrally coordinated, with support from specialist graduate recruitment managers. The bulk of the training is job-related, though there is also a focus on acquiring other skills such as leadership and performance management. Most partners will spend an average of 10 days a year being trained.
Although there is clear preference within John Lewis for developing ‘home-grown’ talent, there is some external recruitment to key positions. However, applications need to demonstrate empathy with the cultural values of the business. Another example of an outward face is in the operation of the senior academy scheme. Here, executives receive couching and management education at international business schools in France and the US.
The notion of a job for life is of course, consigned to history now – as much because individuals demand career variety for themselves, as because of the reality of the contemporary labour market. Yet at john Lewis it does not seem so fanciful as it does elsewhere. Total turnover of partners currently runs at 22% in the department stores and 33% in the food shops – this in a sector renowned for high staff turnover, and concentrated in a part of the UK where jobs are in plentiful supply. However, after 3 years the turnover drops dramatically. What is it that drives the longevity of service that John Lewis so prizes among its staff?
Well, in an age were the label ‘traditional’ is often sneered at, John Lewis is traditional – in the best sense of the word – proud of it. You won’t find a relaxed approach to dress in this organisation; people are expected to look smart because they each represent the face of the company to its customers. Having respect for the customer as well as other partners is one of the core values of the business.
Other values that are deeply enshrined are honesty – appraisal is open and transparent and links directly to what people are paid. There is also a strong sense of team work as you are not just an employee, you are a partner with a responsibility for the greater good of the business.
Traditional in its values, John Lewis has a progressive approach to people management. Staff can work flexible hours by arrangement with a line manager, and can use an in-house occupational health advisory service if they have stress or other work-related problems. A range of employee welfare services includes chiropody – a popular choice in an organisation where lots of walking gets done.
Again, from a business perspective john Lewis may trade on a traditional heritage but it has demonstrated a willingness to explore new areas in order to target customers. Its online shopping service, John Lewis Direct, has proved a success where many similar ventures have floundered; so too the internet grocer Ocado, in which the company has a 40% stake. The latter transports all items from a single warehouse and is now ranked in the top three internet retail distribution business by sales volume.
Within the organisation, staff are encouraged to think of ways to improve the working environment. As well as a long-standing suggestion scheme, the company introduced an annual employee attitudes survey in 2015 which has generated a lot of feedback, both positive and not so positive. It has also just launched a salary sacrifice scheme, allowing partners to swap remuneration for computer equipment, childcare vouchers and other items.
Diversity and Social Responsibility
John Lewis serves a diverse range of customers at many of its locations and as such aims to reflect this in its partners. Women currently constitute 60% of staff and just under half of all managers are female. There is ongoing monitoring of the ethnic diversity of the workforce, 14% of whom are from minority backgrounds. There are also proactive efforts to move partners from ethnic minorities into management positions. The current proportion is 4% but increasing representation of such partners on the graduate scheme means this proportion is set to rise considerably over coming years.
The company’s constitution contains seven core principles relating to purpose, power, members, customers, business and relationships. Though drawn up in 1928, John Lewis believes it anticipates much of the modern CSR agenda, Today the business allocates 2.4% of its profits to social responsibility activities and it is an active members of the CSR network, Business in the Community.
At a local level, each store makes donations to charitable causes chosen by elected charities committees. During 2017-04, these committees gave £430,000 to 3,360 charities, part of £2.88m given in total. The company also operates a sabbatical scheme, whereby support is given to partners who carry out voluntary work at a registered UK charity.
As an equity owning partnership, John Lewis is not subject to external public scrutiny but it endeavours to set itself the same tests shareholders would. One example of this is the financial return it aims to achieve each year in order to outperform competitors.
With more than half a million different product lines, john Lewis has relationships with a multitude of global suppliers, and in recognition of the emergence of the ethical consumer, it undertakes to be transparent about its sourcing techniques and what it expects of suppliers. The standard it expects were formally set out in 2000, in the company’s Responsible Sourcing Principles.
Closer to home, John Lewis is an enthusiastic recycler of waste items – recycling 300 tonnes of packaging in a typical week. Over 2020, waste output was reduced by 20% while the proportion of recycled goods increased by 11%.
John Lewis Partnership plc.
171 Victoria Street