// Several members of the John Lewis Partnership council has requested that this week’s vote of confidence in chair Dame Sharon White’s leadership takes place in secret
// In the past secret votes have resulted in significant rebellions
John Lewis chair Dame Sharon White could face a secret vote of confidence this week.
The Sunday Times reported that several members of the partnership council, an elected body of more than 60 John Lewis Partnership partners, have requested that the vote of confidence in White’s leadership that happens twice a year be held in secret this week.
It will go ahead if a majority of John Lewis councillors agree to the motion this week. The newspaper reported that in the recent past a secret ballot has resulted in significant rebellions.
The vote will follow a meeting at the partnership-owned The Odney Club, in which White and her senior execs field questions by the council this week about its performance.
The John Lewis chair has come under pressure as losses ballooned to £234m in the retail group’s latest results and a potential plan to raise funds by selling a minority stake in the business, thus diluting its partnership model, went down badly in some quarters.
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A partnership spokeswoman told the newspaper that one of the reasons councillors had requested a secret ballot was because they did not want their names to appear in the media.
However, the newspaper reported that recent letters submitted by staff to the John Lewis Partnership’s in-house publication The Gazette show some discontent about White’s leadership.
One partner wrote in to say they backed a “no-confidence vote” in White and said “talk to your forum reps, make your thoughts known. Time for partners to speak up in a way that will be heard”.
While the confidence vote is not binding, a significant rebellion would pile further pressure on White.