Waitrose AGMs

Photo:Waitrose AGM 1970 in Peter Jones restaurant

Waitrose AGM 1970 in Peter Jones restaurant

John Lewis Partnership archives

Photo:Waitrose Whetstone Partners at 1996 AGM

Waitrose Whetstone Partners at 1996 AGM

John Lewis Partnership archives

Photo:Waitrose Harrow Weald Partners at 1996 AGM

Waitrose Harrow Weald Partners at 1996 AGM

John Lewis Partnership archives

By Linda Moroney

Waitrose AGMs have grown considerably since the days when two meetings at Peter Jones accommodated the whole division. In 1969, Group A met on the Tuesday in the Peter Jones restaurant, Group B gathered there on the Thursday and Groups C, D, E etc were no more than a far distant idea. Sales in 1968 had risen from £13.5 million the previous year to £16.7 million.

The AGM of 1969 discussed the issues of ceasing to offer credit and delivery, Monday closing and impending decimilisation.

In 1970 six Waitrose AGMs were held in local centres. They were "most successful and indicated that a sound morale and positive spirit exists in this part of the Partnership". The next year's meetings were "good humoured" too and Partners relished the opportunity to question management. Almost all the meetings "had to be called to a halt before Partners' questions and comments had been exhausted".

At the Birmingham AGM in 1973, Derek Saward, General Manager (Administration) answered 30 questions before closing the meeting, perhaps inspired by the new technology: "The speakers used microphones for the first time and slides were used for illustration". These showed the latest own-label products and "the right and wrong way to wear business dress".

By 1976 the meetings numbered 10 and required an "immense planning operation". The meetings had also developed into an occasion for Partners from different branches to meet socially, and in 1980 - by which time nearly 9,000 people were working in 70 supermarkets - more than 100 coaches were required. "A typical meeting started about 6.30pm and the Partners attending, who had come straight from work, were first given dinner - a good one, with a glass of wine". Business followed and the evening then finished with a disco.

In 1997 David Felwick, Director of Trading (Food) reiterated the importance of outstanding service in a video presentation. He praised Partners' "friendliness, skills and knowledge", and described these qualities as the "link, that vital link" that had helped Waitrose achieve record profits on sales of £1,540 million.

At the Wembley conference centre the next year, at the largest of 20  being held across Waitrose, subjects covered included a tribute to the Intelligence team which conducted 'shopping basket' tests, wastage figures and the importance of recycling and waste packaging.

Taken from The Gazette.

This page was added by Linda Moroney on 20/11/2012.