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Friday, 29 November, 2002, 00:47 GMT
Lewis tops business leaders poll
John Spedan Lewis
Poll winner: John Spedan Lewis
John Spedan Lewis, the driving force behind the profit-sharing department store chain, has been voted Britain's greatest business leader in a BBC online poll.

In a close-run contest, Spedan Lewis garnered 22.36% of the votes cast, edging steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, with 21.18% of the vote, into second place.

Joseph Rowntree, confectioner and social reformer, came a distant third with 15.73%.

More than 4,000 viewers, listeners and online readers took part in the vote, inspired by the BBC's 'Great Britons' poll, won earlier this month by Winston Churchill.

The BBC audience also nominated all of the candidates.

Profit motive

Although unscientific, the result of the business leaders' online poll suggests that entrepreneurs who combine business acumen with a degree of social compassion are held in high regard.

Andrew Carnegie
Steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie

Spedan Lewis is best known for setting up the John Lewis partnership, under which the department store's profits are shared between its employees.

This arrangement is still going strong 83 years after it was first introduced, with 58,000 employees now sharing in the fortunes of the John Lewis business.

The two runners up are also known for their altruism as well as their business success.

Big names

Most of the remaining five candidates were more conventional models of British capitalism.

William Lever, in fourth position with 13.67% of the vote, laid the foundations for the Unilever consumer goods empire.

Joseph Rowntree
Chocolate magnate Joseph Rowntree

Charles Rolls and Henry Royce, ranked fifth with 9.97%, gave their names to the legendary luxury car firm.

Another motor car magnate, William Morris, came sixth with 7.27%.

Industrialist Arnold Weinstock, creator of the once mighty GEC engineering and defence empire, finished seventh with 5.35%.

Simon Marks, son of Marks & Spencer co-founder Michael Marks, brought up the rear with 4.47% of the votes cast.

The poll, launched earlier this month, was intended to find the business leader who had made the most lasting impact on UK industry.

This narrowed the field of candidates to a shortlist of eight, as contemporary nominees were ruled out on the grounds that it is still too early to assess their final legacy.


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Candidates
See also:

27 Nov 02 | Business
27 Nov 02 | Business
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