John Lewis restores staff bonus as profits improve

The John Lewis Partnership has restored its annual staff bonus and committed to pay the voluntary living wage, alongside a wider pay increase, in acknowledgment of the surge in the cost of living.

The retail giant scrapped the bonus scheme in 2020 for the first time since 1953 as sales plunged due to pandemic. But now, partners – the staff within the employee-owned company – will see a three per cent bonus, which is the equivalent of one-and-a-half week’s wages per partner.

The Partnership reported a bottom line loss before tax of £26 million – an improvement of £491 million on last year when it launched its master plan to save costs, which included the closure of several under-performing stores and a delivery hub and almost 4,000 job cuts.

“These were necessary decisions to ensure the Partnership is sustainable in the future,” the company said.

Pre-tax profits saw a 38 per cent rise to £181 million for the year ending 29 January 2022.

John Lewis achieved the highest sales in its history, of £4.9 billion, which was up eight per cent like-for-like on last year, and against the 2019/2020 period, department store sales were up 10 per cent like-for-like.

The Partnership said that its cost-cutting schemes – amounting to £170 million – were “a major factor” behind its recorded profit growth compared to last year.

Looking ahead, Partnership Chairman, Dame Sharon White (left), spoke of “continued uncertainty” from global events, as well as inflation and energy price rises.

However, Ms White also reported that the company had made good progress with its five-year Partnership Plan; “we remain focused on investing significantly in our Plan to transform and grow our business”, she said.

This involves investment of £119 million into John Lewis stores, digital services and distribution capabilities.

Ms White continued: “This is a year of opportunity for the Partnership, despite economic headwinds. We have come through so much already and our solidarity will continue to carry us through.”

Last month, the company announced £500 million investment into a new value offering at John Lewis; as part of this, the brand’s famous ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ slogan will be retired in the Summer as the new approach of Quality & Value every day comes in.