Employee ownership role for John Lewis nephew

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The great nephew John Spedan Lewis, founder of the John Lewis Partnership, has been appointed president of the Employee Ownership Association, the membership body that represents over 470 employee-owned businesses in the UK.

Patrick Lewis, Executive Director of Finance of the John Lewis Partnership, will take over in September.

His presidency heralds a new era for the EOA, which was established in 1979 by English journalist, economist and social reformer Robert Oakeshott, with other changes to key roles on its board expected in the coming months.

Patrick takes over the role from Sir Charlie Mayfield, former chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, who had been in the role since 2013. He played an integral role in helping the association pull together the Ownership Effect Inquiry that resulted in the Ownership Dividend report published in 2018.

We need to think about what country we wish to live in, what type of life we desire, what type of job and workplace we want to work in

Patrick, who started his career as a Consultant at Bain & Company and Finance Manager at Procter & Gamble, was drawn to the Partnership because of its focus on people and excellent customer service. He has always played down the family connection in his 26 years at the partnership.

“There is enormous untapped potential for employee ownership in the UK,” he said. “At a time when we need to focus on an economy fit for the future, identifying the right levers to pull is vital, and we must make sure employee ownership is a key strand.

“We need to think about what country we wish to live in, what type of life we desire, what type of job and workplace we want to work in. And how do we make sure that anyone from any background can enjoy and develop at the place where they earn a living, where they can get in and get on?”

Simon Fowler, Chair of the Employee Ownership Association, said: “Patrick joins us at an exciting time for the employee ownership sector, a sector which has increased in size by more than 50 per cent since 2017.

“As always, the success of these businesses is rooted in their ability to unite people behind a common purpose, by giving their employees a stake and a say – a subject on which Patrick can offer a wealth of insight to help positively influence the understanding of and respect for the EO sector.”