John Lewis launches four-year sports programme

The John Lewis Partnership has announced a four-year health and wellbeing programme that will invite all 69,000 UK employees to take part in sport and qualify as coaches in the run up to London’s 2012 Olympic games.

The employee-owned retail group, which operates John Lewis department stores and Waitrose food shops, launched the ‘Partners in Sport’ scheme today in partnership with Sports Coach UK, the government-backed agency for the development of the UK coaching system.

In the first year, the scheme will invite 100 ‘partners’, as staff are known, to join a coaching programme in either football, athletics, swimming or cricket. Further sports and disciplines are planned over the four years and it is hoped that some 1,000 partners will train to qualify as sports coaches by 2012.

For partners wishing to become a qualified sports coach, the programme will provide employees with access to training courses and a mentor supplied by Sports Coach UK.

The retail firm will also be providing support and advice to partners and their close family members who are competing at a national level or above in their chosen sport. This will allow them to receive practical help as opposed to financial support, such as travel, accommodation, consultation with nutritionists or upgrading equipment.

Andrew Clark, head of reward at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “On the basis of partner feedback, we wanted to capture the spirit of the Olympics while also offering them a chance to get involved in something they enjoy. At the same time this will hopefully lead to them having a healthier lifestyle.

“The scheme will also allow partners to gain a new skill by getting involved in sports coaching. Not only is this healthy but they will learn about team work, competition and motivation: all skills you can use in the workplace. Furthermore, [once qualified] they have the opportunity to give something back to the community by coaching in schools or a local voluntary body.”

‘Partners’, as staff are known, currently receive £250 a year towards learning a sport or activity of their choice, access to five subsidised holiday centres, and finance for over 75 sports clubs and societies.