John Lewis employee council holds secret vote on support for Sir Charlie Mayfield

John Lewis

John Lewis Partnership’s employee council has held a secret vote on whether to continue to support chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield’s leadership.

According to The Sunday Times, the retailer’s 65-member employee council, who are chosen to represent the interests of its 85,500 partners, held the vote for a second time in two years amid growing concerns about its financial performance.

Although over 75 per cent of members are understood to have voted in support of Mayfield, one member who voted against him told John Lewis’ in-house publication The Gazette that he felt he needed his “faith restored”.

Last year a similar vote was held, marking the first time in more than a decade the council has voted on its support towards its chairperson.

Despite the increasing frequency, morale seems to have improved since last year, which saw just under two thirds vote in support of Mayfield.

Earlier this year John Lewis Partnership reported that group profits before bonus, tax and exceptional items dropped 21.9 per cent to £289.2 million in its annual results.

Its performance also saw its partnership bonus drop for the fifth consecutive year to the lowest level for 63 years – standing at £74 million, or the equivalent of five per cent of salary.

This was reportedly due to two factors. The partnership suffered major exceptional charges of £111.3 throughout the year, including a restructuring and redundancy bill of £72.8 million. Profit before partnership bonus and tax also dived 67.2 per cent.

Furthermore, the weaker exchange rate hit its grocery arm Waitrose hard.

Operating profits before partnership bonus, tax and exceptional items at Waitrose was down 32.1 per cent, compared to John Lewis’ 4.5 per cent rise.

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