Jun 27, 2018

John Lewis has customers and partners playing spot the difference

John Lewis Partnership has always been different to other retailers - and not just because of its odd status as a worker-owned purveyor of finery to the capitalist middle classes. Already, six new personal stylists at John Lewis's White City store account for 20 per cent of womenswear sales. Property is as much a problem for John Lewis as other retailers, now that it is focusing on differentiation, not scale. With a £700m deficit in its - until now - non-contributory final-salary scheme, John Lewis's pension review will decide if partners must pay a price for certainty in future, or move to a new, less-certain arrangement. With all this strategy costing £500m a year - potentially reducing half-year profit to zero - partners may wonder what is so different about a bonus cut, a pension hit, or a risk of store closure.

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