20 May, 2014

Oxford Street and the roof garden at John Lewis.

When people ask me if I want to go to Oxford Street I normally reply that I'd love too but I'm having red hot needles pushed under my fingernails that day and that will be much more pleasurable. I can't stand the place - it has all the shops you get in Bromley and is crowded to the point of madness. However when John Lewis recreate their first shop and open their roof garden to the public I am rather compelled to go. John Lewis started life as a draper's apprentice but when he mastered the trade branched out on his own. His son John Spedan Lewis entered the family business but after a fall from his horse where he had to spend two years recovering, tried to involve the workers in the control of the business. He did this by settling shares on employees as part of their remuneration and eventually all the workforce became partners in the business. The term Partnership is a misnomer as the company is really a PLC but all the employees are owners. I'm still not convinced it's really a co-op but I think they try quite hard at democracy, but also too at paternalism. The roof garden was lovely though.

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