Fiona Smith Columnist

Fiona writes on workplace issues, including management, psychology, workplace design, human resources and recruitment. She is a former Work Space editor at The Australian Financial Review and has also covered property, technology, architecture and general news.

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People power: 3 of the world’s most successful employee-owned businesses

Published 11 April 2013 00:47, Updated 11 April 2013 07:54

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People power: 3 of the world’s most successful employee-owned businesses

British retailer John Lewis has been employee-owned since 1929. Photo: John Lewis

Mondragon

This is the seventh largest Spanish company in terms of asset turnover, providing employment for 83,869 people in 256 companies.

It operates in four areas: finance, industry, retail and knowledge. Co-operatives are owned by their worker-members and power is based on the principle of one person, one vote.

A portion of each member enterprise’s net revenue goes to a fund for research and development, which finances new product development. R&D employs 800 people with a budget of more than $75 million. In 2010, 21.4 per cent of sales comprised new products and services that did not exist five years earlier.

John Lewis

The British company is hailed as one of the best models of worker-owned businesses. Employee-owned since 1929, it has sales of £8.7 billion ($12.7 billion), 81,000 employees, and profits of £354 million.

Over the last 50 years, the average bonus has been 16 per cent of the annual wage (compared with 0 per cent to 3 per cent in British industries in general in the last three years).

Publix

The largest employee-owned supermarket chain in the United States, Publix has been one of Fortune magazine’s 100 top companies to work for, over 15 consecutive years.

It had retail sales of $27 billion in 2011 and employs more than 152,500. It is the fastest-growing employee-owned supermarket chain in the US and excels in community involvement and volunteering.

Source: Employee Ownership Australia and New Zealand

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