Business

John Lewis scraps staff bonus for the first time since 1953

John Lewis Partnership profits

John Lewis scraps staff bonus for the first time since 1953

For the first time since 1953, John Lewis staff will not receive a bonus after being hit by lockdown store closures. 

The retailer posted a huge £635m pre-tax loss for the six months to 25 July after higher costs offset a 1% rise in sales. 

Its chairwoman told staff the announcement “will come as a blow”.

Even before the pandemic, John Lewis had warned it might not pay the usual staff bonus as competition ate into profits. 

Their first-half loss was £635m once exceptional items were taken into account, including a £470m write-down in the value of its stores. 

Excluding those one-off costs, the group’s loss in those six months stood at £55m. 

The last time they decided not to pay a bonus to its staff was in the aftermath of WW2. 

Chairwoman Dame Sharon White: “We came through then to be even stronger and we will do so again.” 

She added: “I know this will come as a blow to partners who have worked so hard this year. The decision in no way detracts from the commitment and dedication that you have shown.”

Bonuses will only resume once annual profits rise to above £150m and best falls, she said. 

John Lewis

The retailer said store closures during lockdown and customers buying less profitable items, such as toilet paper or laptops, had hit trade. 

It estimated that in the first half, John Lewis shops saw a £200m drop in sales, while the wider group saw additional coronavirus-related costs total about £50m.

In a statement, it said that its Waitrose supermarkets had seen “a return to the weekly shops,” with like-for-like sales up 10% year-on-year. 

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