A popular and likeable businessman, Sir Stuart joined the partnership in February 1982 following a twelve year career in the Civil Service. In 1986 he was appointed to the Partnership's Central Board as Director of Research & Expansion and took charge of the Partnership's development programme. The Deputy Chairmanship was added to his Partnership responsibilities in May 1989, and he became the fourth Chairman of the Partnership in 1993.
During those 14 years at the helm of JLP Sir Stuart presided over a courageous programme of modernisation, and all without sacrificing the partnership ethos and principles that were embodied in its 1929 constitution co-ownership and the happiness of its staff. His 14 years as chairman saw steady expansion, the refurbishment of the Oxford Street and Sloane Square department stores, the extension of trading hours, the expansion of the product range and the establishment of an online presence through John Lewis Direct and Ocado, the home-delivery grocery service.
The partnership's 2006 results, announced shortly before Sir Stuart's departure at the end of March 2007, are a testament to his efforts. Pre-tax profits hit a new high of £319m, up 27 per cent on the previous year, and the 68,000 staff or "partners" shared a bonus of £155m, up 29 per cent from 2005 and equivalent to 18 per cent of salaries. The fact that John Lewis continues to outperform the market is a direct result of its partnership structure, says Sir Stuart. "Our success comes from a host of improvements made by 68,000 people who are motivated to deliver outstanding customer service, which translates into profits that feed back to staff", he says. "It's a virtuous circle".
A founding deputy chairman of London First and past President of the Royal Agricultural Society of England (200506), he is President of the Employee Ownership Association and continues to champion the benefits of employee engagement in business. Sir Stuart chaired the team tackling Economic Renewal in deprived communities, and he is one of the Prince of Wales's Ambassadors in this area. He has been a member of the Corporate Leaders Group pressing the government for stronger action on climate change.
Sir Stuart is a patron of the HFT (The Home Farm Trust Ltd), a national charity providing long term support for people with learning disabilities and their families.
Stuart Hampson was knighted in 1998 and also received an honorary doctorate in Business Administration from Kingston University in the same year. He became a Deputy Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire in 2015.