Soaring inflation has returned John Lewis to the 1970s, warns Sharon White

The comments, made at Bloomberg’s Equality Summit, come weeks after the retailer revealed it had slumped to a £99million loss in the first half of the year as it struggles to lower prices for shoppers ahead of a to keep uncertain Christmas low.

John Lewis has said customers are spending less at his stores as they grapple with rising energy bills and other costs.

This means staff may not get a bonus this year after it was cut during the pandemic. Dame Sharon had told staff that the John Lewis partnership would require a “significant increase in performance beyond what we typically achieve in the second half to generate sufficient profit to share a partnership bonus with partners.”

“No one could have predicted the magnitude of the cost of living crisis that has materialized as energy prices and inflation have exceeded all expectations. As a company, we are facing unprecedented cost inflation in groceries and general merchandise,” she told employees.

Speaking at the Bloomberg event, Dame Sharon added: “We will face even tougher challenges over the next six to 12 months as inflation is clearly with us for some time.”

But she said the latest move to reverse almost all cuts in the mini-budget and Kwasi Kwarteng’s departure as chancellor was “an important step in the right direction” for stability. Soaring inflation has returned John Lewis to the 1970s, warns Sharon White

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