One of the longest serving and most successful leaders of a blue-chip company and a highly regarded businessman, Sir Stuart Hampson was chairman of the John Lewis Partnership for 14 years until his retirement in March 2007.
A popular and likeable businessman, Sir Stuart joined the partnership in February 1982 following a twelve-year career in the Civil Service. In 1986 he was appointed to the Partnership’s Central Board as Director of Research and Expansion and took charge of the Partnership’s development programme. The deputy Chairmanship was added to his Partnership responsibilities in May 1989 and he became the fourth Chairman of the Partnership in 1993.
During those 14 years at the helm of JLP Sir Stuart presided over a courageous programme of modernisation, and all without sacrificing the partnership ethos and principles that were embodied in its 1929 constitution of co-ownership and the happiness of its staff. His 14 years as chairman saw steady expansion, the refurbishment of the Oxford Street and Sloane Square department stores, the extension of trading hours, the expansion of the product range and the establishment of an online presence through John Lewis Direct and Ocado, the home-delivery grocery service.
The partnership’s 2006 results, announced shortly before Sir Stuart’s departure at the end of March 2007, are a testament to his efforts. Pre-tax profits hit a new high of £319m, up 27 per cent on the previous year, and the 68,000 staff — or “partners” — shared a bonus of £155m, up 29 per cent from 2005 and equivalent to 18 per cent of salaries. The fact that John Lewis continues to outperform the market is a direct result of its partnership structure, says Sir Stuart. “Our success comes from a host of improvements made by 68,000 people who are motivated to deliver outstanding customer service, which translates into profits that feed back to staff”, he says. “It’s a virtuous circle”.
Sir Stuart was the recent keynote speaker of EOA’s inaugural annual conference and you can hear his interview with ABC National here.