It also announced it would change the names of its stores to John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners.
As reported by the BBC, John Lewis Partnership, which owns John Lewis department stores and the Waitrose supermarket chain, has warned that profits in the first half of the year will be “close to zero”. Last year the group made £26.6m in the first half, and blamed heavy investment for this year’s expected fall.
The retailer said its Waitrose chain would close five of its 353 shops.
The name change to Waitrose & Partners and John Lewis & Partners was intended to emphasis the importance of the chain’s 85,000 members of staff, known as “partners” who are given an annual bonus based on the chain’s profits. The aim of the rebranding was to differentiate the group from other retailers, the company said.
The rebranding will begin in September with London’s Oxford Street store.
Two Little Waitrose stores will close in Manchester, one in Birmingham and one in central London. It will also shut its supermarket in Camden in London.
In a statement John Lewis said it was widely acknowledged that the retail sector was going through a period of “generational change”.
Its response would be to focus on “greater differentiation – not scale” and invest more in developing “unique” products and services, as well as placing more emphasis on its own brand.
It said it would continue to invest between £400m and £500m per year in the business.
As well as warning it did not expect to make any profit in the first half of the year, it said it was assuming that profits before exceptional items would be “substantially lower” than last year’s £290m.
While profits are expected to grow at Waitrose, the John Lewis department stores are expected to see profits decline this year.