John Lewis Gareth Thomas Britain Australia county White city Sharon, county White COST UPS Cooper Waters PwC John Lewis Gareth Thomas Britain Australia county White city Sharon, county White

John Lewis faces criticism over plans to dilute mutual model

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Plans by loss-making retailer John Lewis to end more than seven decades as a 100% employee-owned business have drawn criticism from an MP and supporters of its mutual ownership model.Sharon White, who chairs the company behind the eponymous department store chain and Waitrose, believes the business could raise up to £2bn in new investment by diluting its mutual model, according to reports.Details emerged after John Lewis said on Friday it would have to cut jobs and scrap its regular staff bonus for only the seventh time since 1953, after falling to a worse-than-expected £230m annual loss.While the proposals to raise new money are said to be in the early stages, proponents of the mutual model warned against watering down more than 70 years of 100% employee ownership.Labour’s shadow trade minister Gareth Thomas said the proposal was “very worrying” and reflected Britain’s failure to expand the “permanent capital” model that British building societies can use to raise funds.He said the model was used in Australia, allowing economic investment from an outside investor without affecting mutual ownership, calling on the Treasury to extend the option to firms other than building societies.Mutuo, which advocates for cooperative business models, called reports of John Lewis’ plan “shocking”, and backed Thomas’s call for legislation to allow mutuals to raise money without diluting employee-ownership.John Hawksworth, former chief economist at accounting firm PwC, said moving away from mutual ownership would be “terribly short-sighted”.<p lang=«en» dir=«ltr» xml:lang=«en»>Terribly short-sighted idea — demutualisation destroyed the building societies that tried it and would probably do the same for John Lewis, once the epitome of the

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