John Lewis staff will not receive their annual bonus for the first time in nearly 70 years after profits plummeted during lockdown.
The department store chain, which also owns Waitrose, posted a £635m pre-tax loss for the first half of the year, to 25 July. This includes a £470m write-down in the value of its store estate, and an estimated £50m incurred costs due to covid.
Excluding one-off charges, underlying losses came in at £55m – a slight decline on 2019 – which Chairman Dame Sharon White praised as a “creditable performance” and better than expected, given the hardships retail endured.
“I know this will come as a blow to partners who have worked so hard this year,” White added. “The decision in no way detracts from the commitment and dedication that you have shown.”
White said the retail group was unlikely to reinstate the bonus until profits hit £150m, but promised a 10 per cent bonus should earnings top £300m.
The impact of the pandemic puts John Lewis on course to record the first annual loss since the partnership was established in 1920.