Knighthood for John Lewis chairman


Charlie Mayfield

John Lewis Partnership chairman Charlie Mayfield has been awarded a knighthood for his services to business following a 13-year career at the employee-owned group.

Since being appointed chairman in 2007, Sir Charlie has helped cement the group's position as a UK retail giant, only recently delivering a 15.8% surge in annual profits to £409.6 million despite tough high street conditions.

He joined John Lewis in 2000 as head of business development, responsible for business strategy and development across the group's department store chain John Lewis and its supermarket arm Waitrose. The following year he joined the board as development director and helped lead the group's online strategy, before becoming managing director in January 2005 and then chairman two years later.

The group has become not only a trusted brand on the high street, but it also prides itself on treating its 84,700 staff well. Known as partners, staff are handed bonuses each year to share in the group's success.
They recently shared a £210.8 million pot worth around 17% of salary thanks to the firm's bumper profits haul. It had bounced back from a tougher previous year, when profits fell 4%, hailing its website as a key reason for the turnaround.

Sir Charlie, of Newbury in Berkshire, is also being recognised for his work as chairman of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills - a post he has held since 2010. He said on taking up the role that he wanted to lead the commission in its goal to "raise prosperity and opportunity by encouraging employer ambition and developing world-class employment and skills systems".

He has campaigned to see employers take charge of skills development and training for their workforces, arguing that it would benefit both firms and the wider British economy.

Sir Charlie also chairs Business in the Community's Business Action on Economic Renewal Leadership Team.

Another prominent business figure to be knighted in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours is Dick Olver, the outgoing chairman of defence giant BAE Systems. Sir Dick, of Danbury in Essex, is stepping down from BAE after nine years in the role, to be replaced by City veteran Sir Roger Carr in the first quarter of 2014.

Sir Dick is a member of the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Group and is also a UK Business Ambassador.

© 2013 Press Association