Patrick Lewis’ president role heralds new era for employee ownership champions

Patrick Lewis, Executive Director of Finance of the John Lewis Partnership, will take over as the president of the Employee Ownership Association (EOA) in September.

His presidency heralds a new era for the EOA, which was established in 1979 by English journalist, economist and social reformer Robert Oakeshott, with other changes to key roles on its board expected in the coming months.

Patrick takes over the role from Sir Charlie Mayfield, former chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, who had been in the role since 2013. Sir Charlie played an integral role in helping the association pull together the Ownership Effect Inquiry that resulted in the report the Ownership Dividend published in 2018.

Patrick, who started his career as a Consultant at Bain & Company and Finance Manager at Procter & Gamble, was drawn to the John Lewis Partnership because of its focus on people and excellent customer service.

And despite Patrick being the only family member of the original founder working in the business – his great grandfather established the John Lewis store and his Great Uncle John Spedan Lewis who developed the John Lewis Partnership in which all workers were given a stake and a say in the business – this is something he has played down during his 26 years at the partnership.

Joining the business in 1994, Patrick spent 15 years in Operations running the Supply Chain and Retail teams. In 2009, he then took up the Board role of Partners’ Counsellor, representing Partners’ interests as owners, ahead of becoming Managing Director, Partnership Services in October 2012. In 2015, he was appointed as Group Finance Director and this year became Executive Director, Finance.

Patrick’s values are aligned with those of John Spedan Lewis, referring to employee ownership as a “gem of an idea” with much more to give society and the economy.

Patrick Lewis said:

“There is enormous untapped potential for employee ownership in the UK. At a time when we need to focus on an economy fit for the future, identifying the right levers to pull is vital, and we must make sure employee ownership is a key strand.

“We need to think about what country we wish to live in, what type of life we desire, what type of job and workplace we want to work in. And how do we make sure that anyone from any background can enjoy and develop at the place where they earn a living, where they can get in and get on?”

Simon Fowler, Chair of the Employee Ownership Association, said:

“Patrick joins us at an exciting time for the employee ownership sector, a sector which has increased in size by more than 50% since 2017.

“As always, the success of these businesses is rooted in their ability to unite people behind a common purpose, by giving their employees a stake and a say – a subject on which Patrick can offer a wealth of insight to help positively influence the understanding of and respect for the EO sector.”

Deb Oxley OBE, Chief Executive of the EOA, said:

“We are delighted to welcome Patrick to the role of EOA President. I look forward to seeing how we can work together to raise awareness of how increasing employee ownership can help the UK build back better, by supporting greater income equality, business resilience and productivity powered by engaged employees.

“We would also like to thank our outgoing president, Sir Charlie Mayfield, for his many and valued contributions over the past 7 years.”