John Lewis employees' bonus bonanza

2004

The 59,000 staff of UK retailer the John Lewis Partnership will be sharing a £87 million bonus this year, an increase of 29 per cent over 2003 and equivalent to just over six weeks pay for each employee.

This year's increase follows a 10 per cent increase in profits at the group to £277 million.

The company, which has no outside shareholders and is run as a partnership for the beneift of those who work in it, distributes a proportion of its profits every year as bonuses.

The success of the business is largely due to the vision of John Spedan Lewis, whose personal belief that the the real advantages of ownership should go to those who gave their time and labour to the business rather than to those who had supplied the capital led to the creation of the company's unique structure in the early part of the 20th century.

"The Partnership was meant to enable people to feel that they might be making a contribution of real value to the ceaseless experimenting that is necessary to human progress. It was meant for people who need not only something to live by but something to live for," he said.

How sad that more than half a century later, so many organisations still ignore the simple message that John Spedan Lewis saw so clearly - and which the company he led still thrives on today.

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