John Lewis Partnership announces results with employee bonuses at risk


ohn Lewis Partnership could turn negative given skyrocketing costs at its Waitrose supermarket division last year, industry analysts say.

It would mean that the High Street Stalwart’s staff would miss out on an annual bonus payout.

The retail giant behind department store chain and Waitrose will announce its retail performance for the year to January on Thursday 16th March.

It comes at a pivotal time for JLP in the group’s transformation plan, led by Sharon White.

In 2021, the company returned to profitability as it saw the first positive signs of the strategy, which saw it close a number of department stores to cut costs.

However, the latest update comes against a difficult backdrop for retailers as shoppers face rising household bills.

In the first half of the financial year, the partnership fell to a half-year loss of £99m and said it had decided to “forego” profitability to help staff and customers amid the cost of living crisis.

The group showed in September that like-for-like sales at its department stores rose 3% year-on-year for the first half, but fell 5% at Waitrose stores.

Positive winter trade updates from competitors Marks & Spencer and Next give optimism that John Lewis stores have maintained their steady performance.

The update comes just weeks after John Lewis boss Pippa Wicks split from the department store arm and is replaced by current retail director Naomi Simcock.

However, questions remain about Waitrose, particularly given its upmarket position at a time of financial pressures for buyers.

The latest figures from Kantar showed that Waitrose’s sales rose 0.7% in the 12 weeks to February 19, below the majority of its peers and hence its market share to 4.7% from 5% last year went back.

Retail expert Nick Bubb predicted on Thursday JLP could post a loss of £50m before one-off costs for the year, compared with a profit of £181m last year.

“It goes without saying that there will be no partnership bonus on this basis, although the £500 living allowance given to full-time staff at Christmas will have softened the blow,” he said.

The company is still in the midst of a major strategic shift that has seen it attempt to expand into the rental housing market to find a new revenue stream. John Lewis Partnership announces results with employee bonuses at risk

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