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UK's John Lewis eyes end of 100% staff ownership - The Sunday Times

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers walk past the John Lewis department store on Oxford Street in London

(Reuters) -British retailer John Lewis, which has been 100% owned by its staff, is considering diluting its partnership structure, The Sunday Times reported on Saturday.

The report said that the company would consider selling only a minority stake and its priority would be to maintain majority employee ownership.

Chairperson Sharon White is in the early stages of exploring a plan to change the retailer's mutual structure so it can try to raise between 1 billion and 2 billion pounds ($1.22 billion-$2.44 billion) of new investment, the report said.

Any outside investor would have to share the partnership's employee-centric values, the report added.

The company, which runs John Lewis department stores and grocer Waitrose, said on Friday it would have to cut staff numbers and scrap bonuses this year, flagging an uncertain outlook as customers struggle with inflation.

"We’ve always said we would seek partnerships to help fund our transformation and exciting growth plans," John Lewis said in a statement at the weekend, citing previous partnerships with Ocado in the past and a current joint venture with investment firm abrdn.

"Our Partners, who own the business, will be the first to hear about any developments."

($1 = 0.8214 pounds)

(Reporting by Urvi Dugar in Bengaluru and Alistair Smouth in LondonEditing by Peter Graff and Frances Kerry)