Week Ahead

White pressed to deliver turnaround at John Lewis

Dame Sharon White
Dame Sharon White survived vote (pic: Terry Murden)

John Lewis Partnership chairwoman Dame Sharon White will look for further reassurance this week when she reports half-year results three months after surviving a vote of confidence in her leadership of the retail group.

The partnership council has expressed concern over the business after it reported an underlying pre-tax loss of £78 million in the year to the end of January, higher than the £50m loss that analysts had been expecting. This followed a £181m profit a year earlier.

White has put the blame partly on rising costs which soared by £180m last year but is under pressure to get the employee-owned group back into profit before 2026.

She sparked concern over plans to change its historic ownership structure in a bid to raise fresh capital and there is also a focus on her controversial move into build-to-rent property.

Among other companies reporting this week are civil engineer and construction firm Kier, the financial adviser Mattioli Woods – which owns Maven Capital Partners – and the investment manager Brooks Macdonald which all report year end figures. The energy firm Tullow Oil and Scottish meter installer Smart Metering Systems will post interim figures. Clothing retailer Primark’s owner Associated British Foods will provide a trading update.

Monthly growth figures for July from the Office for National Statistics will indicate how the economy has performed at the start of the third quarter. Economists expect output to have contracted, with some estimates suggesting a 0.4% drop between June and July because of unseasonably wet weather driving down consumption.

The figures will come on the back of new data today showing output in Scotland stagnated across the private sector, with a decline in new orders and a fall in confidence.

The purchasing managers’ index, produced by Royal Bank of Scotland, found a slowing of demand for goods and services last month. The bank said there were signs of “emerging weakness” in the economy, with companies becoming more cautious in the face of rising interest rates and high inflation.

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