Employee Engagement

Bonuses for 86,700 staff at John Lewis and Waitrose have been cut for the fourth year in a row. Employees will receive a bonus of 6%, more than three weeks’ wages, this year, down from 10% last year.

The partnership decided to hold back more of its annual profit in the face of an “increasingly uncertain market this year”.

The group, which runs department stores and supermarkets, also warned of price pressures and intense competition.

John Lewis also reported a rise in sales and profits last year. Profit, before the partnership bonus, tax and exceptional items, rose 21.2% to £370.4m.

Overall sales rose 3.2%, with both John Lewis and Waitrose increasing their market share.

The John Lewis department stores, which say they are “never knowingly undersold” on price, saw sales growth in all major areas.

New products such as the Dyson Supersonic hairdryer helped the electronics division, while fashion sales were helped by stocking the brands Finery and Hush, which were previously online only.

Waitrose exports

The Waitrose supermarkets saw like-for-like sales – which strip out the impact of store openings and closures – fall 0.2%, although the company said trading improved in the second half of the year. It is changing its focus to investing in existing stores rather than opening new ones.

Waitrose is also looking to export more. A deal with China’s Alibaba Group allows it to sell products in the country for the first time, and an agreement with the online retailer British Corner Shop, which sells in more than 100 countries, allows it to export elsewhere.

However, John Lewis acknowledged that trading would continue to be tough as it battles the same issues affecting other High Street retailers.

“In the year ahead, trading pressures will continue as a result of the wider changes taking place in retail,” the partnership said.

“The two major influences are pricing, where the rate of change in selling prices is likely to be significantly slower than the rate of change in input costs as a result of weakness in the sterling exchange rate, and the continued shift from shops to online.”

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