John Lewis’s problems are fixable, but partners will need patience

Though a sense of urgency is what the department store group badly needs, four main worries linger

Back in the 1990s, there was a live debate within the John Lewis Partnership about whether to throw in the towel on employee ownership and join the demutualisation fad that infected (and ruined) too many building societies.

So crises at JLP need to be seen in perspective. Employee ownership is safe and today’s boardroom is not in despair. All the same, the first non-payment of a bonus to staff since 1953, plus a thumping £470m property writedown, says this crisis is a bad one. And it arrived well before Covid-19.

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