Staff bonus scrapped

‘We will come back stronger’ says John Lewis boss

John Lewis

The Edinburgh store is known to have also suffered from the St James redevelopment

John Lewis has axed its staff bonus for the first time since 1953 after the group plunged to a half-year bottom line loss of £635 million.

The severe fall, against a £192m profit last time, reflects ther damage caused to high street shops by a rapid change in consumer behaviour during the pandemic.

Excluding exceptional items of £580m, the employee-owned group made a first-half loss of £55m, similar to last year. It wrote down the value of its stores by £470m.

Sharon White, chairman of the department stores and supermarkets group, told the media: “The Partnership found itself in a similar position in 1948 when the bonus was halted (for five years) following the Second World War.

“We came through then to be even stronger than before and we will do so again.”

Sales were slightly higher than last year – up 1.1%. But shoppers spent more on less profitable lines such as laptops and loo rolls.

Online sales growth was strong at 73%, helping to offset the impact of shop closures, with overall sales, down 10% on last year.

Operating profit fell 46.3% at John Lewis department stores in the six months to July 25, but was up 10.6% at Waitrose supermarkets which also saw like-for-like sales up almost 10% on last year.

The group is expecting “a small loss or a small profit for the year”, it said.

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