Britain's John Lewis Partnership Reports £55m First-Half Loss
Waitrose owner The John Lewis Partnership has reported a first-half loss of £55 million (€60.5 million), saying the hit to trading from the pandemic had left it in the same position as it was after World War Two – unable to pay a bonus to staff.
The business said the closure of stores during the national lockdown and the purchase of low-profit products like toilet paper had hit overall trading.
Yesterday, its Waitrose business said that it was planning to close four stores due to a drop in profitability.
Operating profit at the department store chain fell by 46% in the first-half to July 25. As a result, the employee-owned group will not pay its staff, known as partners, a bonus.
'The Group found itself in a similar position in 1948 when the bonus was halted following the Second World War,' the company said. 'We came through then to be even stronger than before and we will do so again.'
The company said that its worst case scenario as set out in April for the full year of a sales fall of 5% in Waitrose and 35% in John Lewis remained its view.
'We now believe the most likely outcome will be a small loss or a small profit for the year,' it said.
Commenting on the group's outlook, chairman Sharon White said, "We should be confident about our future. We have two of the best loved brands on the high street.
"Purpose is fundamental to everything we do and believe in - tackling inequality, improving sustainability and wellbeing - at a time when customers are more thoughtful than ever before about what they buy and who they buy with."