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Businesses must reconsider values post-recession, says John Lewis chairman

John Lewis Partnership chairman Charlie Mayfield has said that privately-run companies can learn from co-operative groups and said that how business is done post-recession must be reconsidered.

In a bylined article in The Times, Mayfield wrote: “The recession caused by the worst financial crisis for over 80 years and the takeover of Cadbury (a weak pound makes the foreign takeover of venerable quoted British companies uncomfortably easy) should prompt us to rethink how we do business, and our understanding of what a company is for.”

Mayfield, whose business is owned by its 69,000 staff and operates 28 John Lewis department stores, asked how the economy should be reshaped to encourage long-term growth and avoid further crises and maintained that “the rethinking starts with the values of an organisation and those who work within it”.

He added: “Interestingly, putting emphasis on values is also a recipe for commercial success. Companies that focus most on maximising profit are often not the most profitable. That’s especially true over time.”

He said that the way companies such as John Lewis treat their employees means everyone has access to information on business performance and everyone shares “fairly” in success.

Mayfield will be speaking this morning at Drapers’ sister-title Retail Week’s annual conference.

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