Ipswich: John Lewis at home and Waitrose stores at Futura Park to back UK Employee Ownership Day

Anna Moir at the John Lewis at home store in Ipswich

Anna Moir at the John Lewis at home store in Ipswich - Credit: Archant

BUSINESSES are to be urged to embrace co-ownership at the first ever UK Employee Ownership Day on Thursday.

John Lewis Partnership, which has a flagship John Lewis at home and Waitrose outlet at Futura Park, Ipswich, will be at the forefront of a nationwide celebration of employee-owned businesses.

Its staff, who are partners in the business and share in its profits, will be telling customers about what it means to be staff-owned and of the benefits they reap.

The stores, at Nacton, on the edge of Ipswich, will pledge support in helping create a new generation of employee-owned businesses in the region.

The day aims to raise awareness of the benefits of being a co-owned business for employees, other local businesses and the wider community.

Research from the New Economic Forum (NEF) outlines how local people have benefited from John Lewis’s unique co-ownership structure.

The research shows that well-being amongst John Lewis Partnership partners was between 10-15% above the national average. The boost was in part attributed to the Partnership Bonus, which this year stood at 17% of annual wages. A fifth to a quarter of this bonus pay is subsequently spent at shops within the same local authority area, helping to stimulate the local economy.

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Partnership chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield, who is also president of the Employee Ownership Association, predicted on a visit to the Futura Park stores last month that the employee-owned business sector could eventually grow five-fold if helped by more favourable Government policies.

At a time when business ethics are under close scrutiny, following controversies over banking practices and tax avoidance, he said he believed the employee-owned business model was of increasing relevance.

“I am not saying every company should be run like the John Lewis Partnership but I think employee-owned businesses could become a bigger part of the economy,” he said.

On Thursday, partners at the store will be wearing T-Shirts and badges to raise awareness and create some theatre around the UK Employer Ownership Day, and talking to customers about the concept.

Anna Moir, branch manager at John Lewis at home Ipswich, said: “As a business, we have embraced co-ownership for almost 150 years, so there is a great belief in the long-term success and stability of this business model.

“It’s not just the value and progression that individuals can get from working with us, but there’s considerable benefit to the local community as well. We’re proud to celebrate the first of many Employee Ownership Days.”

Iain Hasdell, chief executive of the Employee Ownership Association, said: “Companies such as John Lewis are great examples of the success and engagement that can be achieved in an employee owned environment.

“I am delighted to work on their behalf to celebrate Employee Ownership Day, and make it easier for other UK companies to follow their lead into employee ownership. And to have their support for our target of 10% of UK GDP to be generated by employee owned business by 2020.”

A series of events and activities will be taking place across the UK celebrating UK Employee Ownership Day and there will be a national conference in London.

The aim will be to raise awareness of employee ownership as an economically strong and balanced business model. Benefits of employee ownership proven in EOA research include increased employee health and well-being, and increased productivity and innovation.

UK employee-owned companies have a turnover of around 3% of GDP (or more than £30billion) a year, and there has been a 10% increase in the number of companies converting to employee ownership.

According to the study, employee-owners have higher levels of job satisfaction, feel a greater sense of achievement and job security and are more likely to recommend their workplace to others.

Employee-owned businesses operate in a range of sectors including healthcare, social care, education, transport, manufacturing, retail and professional services.