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Ex-boss says changing John Lewis staff ownership model would be “tragedy”

John Lewis

A former John Lewis executive says changing the retailer’s staff-ownership model would be a “tragedy”.

Since the 1920s, the well-known high street name, which also ownsWaitrose, has been completely owned by its employees.

The business model may be jeopardised as executives consider bringing in outside investment of up to £2 billion for a minority interest in John Lewis.

Read More: Struggling John Lewis looking for new investment which could mean end of staff ownership

Andy Street, the West Midlands mayor who was the retailer’s managing director from 2007 to 2016 said: “It would be a tragedy if that occurs,”.

“I think John Lewis goes a bit beyond a shop,” he told the BBC One’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show.

“You can buy the same television from other places is the truth. But John Lewis was about, actually, a way of doing business.

Read More: John Lewis axes famous staff bonus after recording £234 million loss

“Actually, showing the market there was a better way of doing things.”

Sharon White, the chair of the John Lewis Partnership, moved this week to reassure employees that no changes to the ownership arrangement had been made – yet.

She has, however, already warned of job losses, saying”inflation hit us like a hurricane.”

The company’s full-year loss was worse than predicted at £234 million, and employees did not get their yearly bonus.

Read More: John Lewis sets out plans to become ’employer of choice’ for care leavers

Employees have blamed the present leadership for many of the company’s problems.

According to the Sunday Times, in a poll conducted on Thursday, 85 percent of partners, the name used for John Lewis’s owner-workers, who replied stated they were not confident in the company’s ability to deliver on its strategy.

 According to John Lewis, less than two percent of personnel (approximately 1,000 people) participated.

Read More: John Lewis and Waitrose to hire more than 10,000 temporary staff for Christmas shopping rush

Staff vented their rage on the company’s intranet, with one warehouse coordinator calling the company’s performance “an absolute disgrace,” according to the Sunday Times.

Meanwhile, a Waitrose cheese specialist said: “Is Sharon White taking the responsibility for this loss? She is heading it [the company] … Submit your resignation and go away.”

Street advised company executives to find a way to demonstrate, as other retailers such as Next and Selfridges have, that there is a way to survive in the challenging world of modern online and physical retail.

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“I would urge the leadership of John Lewis to think about what’s really at the heart of it, what makes it special, and hold on to that,” he said.

Street’s remarks echoed calls from retail experts to consider a range of options for reviving the troubled business.

Mary Portas, who advised David Cameron on the future of high streets, cautioned that the battle was not only about the end result, but also saving a brand.

Portas said: “What’s worrying me is you might think your fight is purely financial. It’s not,”.

“The battle in hand is far more nuanced. It’s about what makes up the soul of your brand. The intangibles, the shared beliefs, the beautiful things that can’t be captured in financial projections but earn a little space in people’s hearts.”

SourceThe Guardian

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Barclays-backed loyalty app Bink secures £9 million funding lifeline


A loyalty app with Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group as shareholders has received a £9 million financial boost.

Existing investors in Loyalty Angels, which trades as Bink, have agreed to commit £7.5 million in new capital, according to Sky News.

Insiders say they have also suggested that they will agree to underwrite an additional £1.5 million of investment.

Read More: Barclays to close 14 more branches across the UK

The additional capital will leave Bink with enough cash to operate until at least the first quarter of 2024, following a series of cost-cutting initiatives implemented late last year,

Bink is an app that allows customers to discard their plastic loyalty cards, and it has connections with shops such as Iceland and Harvey Nichols.

It is also said to be in talks with the restaurant franchises Leon and Itsu.

Read More: Barclays could save £200m by pausing payments to staff pension scheme

Bink is now available in Lloyds’ retail banking apps, including Halifax and Bank of Scotland.

Bob Wigley, the chairman of the banking sector lobbying group UK Finance, stood down as chairman of the fintech last October.

His departure occurred amid a difficult era for Bink when the company was obliged to seek finance at a drastically depressed price

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It is now believed to be optimistic about its expansion prospects, with dozens of contacts with potential merchant partners already underway.

The interim chairman is John Dennis, a former Barclays executive who is also a non-executive director of Bink.

Mike Jordan, an experienced payments industry executive with 15 years at American Express, leads the company.

Source:   Sky News

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NPR cuts 100 jobs and stops production of four podcasts


NPR has axed 100 employees and stopped four podcasts thanks to a rollback announced last month.

The firm expects to save $30 million following a revenue decline by cutting 10 percent of staff.

Managers have scheduled three days this week to tell staff who are impacted across multiple divisions, including producers, hosts, audience researchers, and designers

Read More: NPR to cut 100 employees due to $30 million budget shortfall

The podcast cutbacks show that NPR prioritizes its core news programs that are still popular on its national network.

But it led to the suspension of its once-flourishing podcast division, which had been a growing source of ad revenue until recently.

It was the primary source for noncommercial NPR to reach new and younger listeners.

NPR projected last month that its overall ad revenue would fall roughly $30 million short of estimates this year because of a broad tightening of ad spending. 

Read More: SiriusXM announces 475 job cuts in latest media cuts cuts

Podcasting has seen the greatest revenue slump.

“Invisibilia,” “Louder Than a Riot,” “Rough Translation” and “Everyone & Their Mom” are the four podcasts that have been paused.

Spokesperson Isabel Lara said: “Unfortunately, NPR has had to take painful but necessary steps” to address its financial issues. 

“We’ve tried as much as possible to retain industry-leading podcast portfolios and focus on key strategic priorities, daily habits and serving new audiences.”

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NPR confirmed job cuts last month after removing unfilled positions, limiting nonessential travel, and halting internship programs to save $14 million.

It joins several other media organizations that slashed staff recently amid declining advertising revenue and recession fears.

The Washington Post, CNN, Vox Media, Bustle Digital Group, and Gannett have all cut employees.

Source: The Washington Post

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Salesforce could cut more jobs to boost profits


Salesforce COO Brian Millham has told his employees about more possible layoffs as the company works to improve profitability.

In a memo to staff, he said: “The structure of the organization — if we feel like it needs to change and reshape — we’re going to make those moves to drive the efficiencies.”

He added that Salesforce’s business review consultant Bain has still to give final recommendations.

Read More: Indeed announces 2,200 layoffs that will hit most teams

The San Francisco-based software provider announced massive job cut plans in January when almost 8,000 positions were affected.

Its biggest-ever staff downsizing came after years of hiring sprees and major takeovers, resulting in the closure of offices across the US. 

A group of activist investors who have purchased stock in the firm is now pressing for greater cost cuts to raise earnings and profit margins.

Salesforce isn’t the only tech giant shedding workforce in large numbers.

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In recent months, Meta, Amazon, and Twilio conducted further series of layoffs, totaling over 21,000 jobs. 

Millham joined the firm in 1999 as its 13th employee and rose to chief operating officer last year.

He said the current focus is on increasing the efficiency of the sales and go-to-market divisions he manages and also exploring new selling opportunities.

It includes those as with the company’s newly revealed AI products.

He took over some of the operational and customer-facing duties that co-CEO Bret Taylor held before departing earlier this year.

Source: Bloomberg

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