John Lewis chair Sharon White has faced a major setback despite narrowly winning a confidence vote from staff.
Despite her winning the vote, the 60 partner council expressed doubts over the performance of the Partnership under White’s leadership, although they have pledged to support her future strategy.
The vote comes when the Partnership is facing concerns about its future.
It reported annual losses of £234m and there have been rumors White was considering selling a minority stake in the business to raise funds.
During a biannual staff meeting held at the Odney Club holiday retreat in Berkshire, White pledged John Lewis would remain employee-owned and assured everyone that the retailer would emerge stronger.
Chris Earnshaw, President of the council said: “The council voted in support of the chairman to progress the partnership in relation to its purpose, principles and rules.
“The council did not support last year’s performance, in which we reported a full-year loss and no partner bonus.”
He described the meeting as “central to how we exercise our democratic principles and ownership of the business”.