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Devoir Anglais Bts 1 Année: le modèle John Lewis

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John Lewis is a model


A cuddly model of capitalism has been oversold

John Lewis, an upmarket departement store, has a special place in the minds of britain's consumers. In a speech to city folk on January th, nick Clegg, the liberal democrat leader and deputy prime minister, called for «  more of john lewis economy ». Yet he was enthusing not about the chain's pretty teapots and bed linens or enven its fair pricing and kindly service, but the company's partnership model. It is owned by its 76500 workers-or, to be more precise ( which Mr clegg was not), an independent trust holds all the shares ans allots staff an annual bonus.

John Spedan Lewis (pictured), son of the store's founder, formes the partnership in 1928 partly to head off rising communist sentiment. But despite his belief that the model could replace traditional capitalism, few have adopted it. Even Charlie Mayfield, John Lewis's boss, says it is «  not the answer to all ills ».

The idea of a more caring, cuddly capitalism has long appeal. Staff share ownership schemes emerged in america in the 1920s. In 1998 Gordon Brown, then Labour chancellor ,preached of stakeholding workers in a « new enterprise culture ». In britain, tax-effient share option plans started in 1980;12,500 companies now have one, double the number in 2000, reports Her majesty's Revenue and customs. MrClegg wants to give staff a broad tight to request shares.

Giving workers shares in a firm may have commercial benefits. Emplyee-owned companies are more productive and hardier in a recession, according to a 2010 study by Cass Business School. John Lewis , wich also owns Waitrose, a posh grocery chain, seem to beat this out. Staff turnover is low ; the shop beat many competitors on christmas sales. Firms with similar structures concur : Arup, an engineering outfit, attributes its business range and «  family feel » to being oxned by its 10,000 employees.

All of whiwh seems less likely to make the blood boil than reports of huge executive pay-offs. But there is little evidence that shared ownership makes capitalism more «  responsible », as MrClegg hopes. It does not prevent bad decisions : having a quarter of shares in employees' hands did not save Lehman Brothers from bankruptcy. And the benefits for staff are questionable. It is rash to put a worker's livelihood, savings and pension is one basket case ; many emplyees lost everything when Enron, an energy-trading company, collapsed in 2001.

Companies that are wholly-owned by their staff may face barries to growth. Many firms need a flexibla capital base to expand- one reson the partnership model in banking declined. Employee mobility promotes innovation. At base, it is unrealistic to expect many bastions of capitalism to turn their shares overs to their workforce, reckons Ian Brinkley of the Work Foundation, a think-tank. It is, he says, hard to imagine someone likeSir Fred Goodwin, the acquisitive former Royal Bank of Scotland boss who over-saw its demise, «  being reined in by some workers' committee. »


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