Top Employers: John Lewis

The John Lewis Partnership is noticeably different to other successful retailers. The 76,500 people who work for us are called Partners and their happiness is at the centre of everything we do. They – we – own the John Lewis Partnership.

John Lewis Logo

The John Lewis Partnership is noticeably different to other successful retailers. The 76,500 people who work for us are called Partners and their happiness is at the centre of everything we do. They – we – own the John Lewis Partnership. And it’s a big partnership: 32 John Lewis shops (28 department stores and four John Lewis at home outlets), 255 Waitrose supermarkets, an online and catalogue business, a production unit and a farm that last year turned over a staggering £38.2 billion.

Power to the people

Our founder, John Spedan Lewis, set up the Partnership in 1928. A year later we – the Partners – starting sharing the profits. In 1950 John completed the move towards employee-ownership by transferring control of the business to us. We have owned it ever since, all 76,500 of us.

Our culture is therefore uniquely empowering, driven by a strong sense of fairness and business purpose. A special governance system is laid out in our Constitution. It’s commercial: we stay ahead in terms of price and quality in a very competitive industry. It’s democratic: we all have a voice in the business we co-own. And it’s flexible: we all enjoy the right to request flexible working.

Award winning

Our unique combination of commercial acumen and corporate conscience, so ahead of its time, won us ‘Retailer of the Year’ at the Oracle Retail Week Awards 2011. The judges were particularly impressed with our multi-channel operations and at home format, as well as with our Waitrose convenience stores and the new partnerships we’ve formed with retailers like Boots.

In the Working Mums Awards 2010, we won the Employee Engagement category for the way we constantly consult one another regarding the business, and for everything we do to make working parents’ lives easier.

Putting you first

Employing working mothers who fully support our Partnership’s Principles, we base our relationships on mutual respect and courtesy, and encourage as much equality as differences of responsibility will allow. We’ll recognise your contribution and reward it fairly, whatever your working hours, location or job level.

Because your ambitions change as you do, we let you drive your own career progress. The development tools and support are here when we want them. Our Horizons programme is multi-channelled because everyone learns in different ways – the more flexible it is, the more you’ll want to use it.

Regarding flexibility, there are plenty of Partners who have joined us in one role, then used our development tools to change direction, ascend the career ladder, take a break and return to a more flexible role that lets them balance their lifestyle. Increasing your hours or securing that next promotion can then be done at a pace that feels right for you.


Our annual bonus is famous: we distribute a proportion of our profits equally among us as a percentage of salary. It was 18% in 2011.

But this is only part of it. We have always believed that there should be more to a job than just work and play so we have the large company benefits you’d expect: paid holidays, pension, childcare vouchers, life assurance and discounts on goods and so on. But there are others that make us really stand out from the crowd:

Partnership holiday centres – We own an exclusive selection of hotels, lodges and caravans. Some are set in the most beautiful places and all are subsidised, making them amazing value. Gorge walking, archery, whitewater rafting, seaside fun in your own castle, relaxed country club breaks, self-catering, exploring national parks or just doing whatever takes your fancy, there’s something for you and for loved ones.

Leisure events – We subsidise special events that bring Partners together. These include:

  • Family Fun Days
  • Football Tournaments
  • Theme Park Take-Over days
  • Music Festivals
  • Major Sporting Events

So whether you want to thrill the family at Thorpe Park, enjoy a VIP weekend in a 4 star hotel or join in the fun at a country fair, there’s something for you.

Partner choice – A whole book of specially negotiated discounts and offers for Partners and their families – everything from discounts on gym membership to hotel stays, cinema tickets and health plans.

Corporate membership – We’re corporate members of organisations such as The National Trust, English Heritage and Eden Project, so you and up to three others can enjoy free entry.

Leisure learning – Thinking of signing up for some aerobics sessions, spending a term brushing up on your Spanish or taking windsurfing lessons in Greece? You can claim half the cost of your chosen leisure course, up to £250 a year.


The John Lewis Partnership have a wide range of vacancies available in both head office functions and within our stores throughout the UK, with many options for working hours. Please see the following link to search our current opportunities:

Case Study:

Louisa Hazlehurst is a mother of three and a Recruitment Co-ordinator at John Lewis Sheffield, where she works part time on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.

I was lucky to become an ‘acquired’ Partner when Waitrose bought Safeway in 2004, and I stayed on as a part timer. In 2007, I went on maternity leave to have my third child and when I returned nine months later, I started a new role at John Lewis Sheffield. I worked weekends in Gift List and now I work three full days in Personnel. I know, from speaking to friends with young children, that finding a fulfilling part-time job – especially one that develops your career – is rare. I’m lucky to have been offered hours that give me a perfect work/life balance. Even if I’m asked to work late, I’ll be given plenty of notice. What has become apparent in my role as a Recruitment Co-ordinator is just how important part-time workers are to the business. When we recruited our Christmas temps we had a lot of part-time applicants who wanted to work weekends and late nights – which can be difficult to cover – so they’re very valuable.




Kay Lane is an accountant when she’s not a Food Service Partner at Waitrose Witney. She works part time for the Partnership on alternate Saturdays and Sundays.

I originally started at Waitrose as a trainee straight from school and worked my way up the ladder. After having my two children I returned to Waitrose part time in the evening. When I decided to study for an Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualification, Waitrose was very flexible, allowing me to change my hours to suit my course. I then got offered a full-time job in accountancy but told them I didn’t want to leave Waitrose! So the firm took me on four days a week, meaning I could work alternate weekends at Waitrose and still have a day off in the week. I really love the flexibility of my various roles: the accuracy of accountancy and my lovely customers at Waitrose who tell me I can’t possibly leave! The discount card and all the other benefits make it worthwhile and I pay all my Waitrose wages into my pension fund. It’s the perfect work/work balance and I’m doing all the things that make me happy.