Chair of Waitrose parent company, the John Lewis Partnership, Sharon White has reassured customers following backlash that it could be changing its ownership model.
Last week, the company announced that it is in the early stages of exploring the sale of a minority stake in the business to raise £1 billion to £2 billion in new investment.
As a result, the business which has been 100% owned by its staff for more than 70 years, would no longer operate under this same ownership structure.
However, in a statemenet to customers, White said: “When John Spedan Lewis handed over his business to his employees to create a Partnership he described it as a ‘radical experiment.
Subscribe to Grocery Gazette for free
“Seventy-five years on and the experiment continues. As Chairman, I’m Chief Trustee of the Partnership, responsible for ensuring the Partnership model not only survives, but thrives for another 75 years.”
She said that the “strength” of the John Lewis and Waitrose brands is because it is a Partnership.
“It is the reason that brilliant customer service, quality, value and sustainability are at the heart of everything we do.
“Our Partners (we don’t call ourselves employees) give more because we own the business, and have a say in how it is run; as we also operate as a democracy.”
White explained that the company has “always been open to new partnerships with investors or like minded companies to support our growth.”
“In seeking what’s best for our business and our Partners, if we were to consider working with others that had implications for how we’re set up, we’d of course discuss it with our Partners first.”
She added that the Partnership “will continue to evolve and change shape.”