John Lewis retains cautious outlook despite greatly improved first half results

Published on: 17th September 2021

Chair Sharon White has warned of ‘significant uncertainty’ ahead, as the partnership reveals a substantial narrowing in losses after tax. 

Having posted a pre-tax loss of £645m in the half year to 31st July 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19, The John Lewis Partnership has revealed that it has substantially narrowed its pre-tax losses in the first half of this year to £29m – a performance the retailer is calling a ‘significant improvement’.

Sales have risen across the partnership, up +12% on the same period last year and +1% on pre-pandemic sales. Waitrose, meanwhile, has posted a +2% sales increase for the first half. Online sales are also substantially up; John Lewis’ eCommerce sales have increased +35% compared to pre-pandemic levels, and now account for 75% of all transactions.

John Lewis chair, Sharon White, said: “We have begun the financial year with profits recovering, ahead of both last year and expectations set at our year-end results. Traditionally, our profits are skewed to the second half of the year because of the importance of Christmas, especially in John Lewis. As we look ahead, there is significant uncertainty. Like the whole of retail, we are managing global supply chain challenges and labour shortages. We are seeing inflationary pressures, which we expect to persist. We are taking a raft of measures to mitigate these risks and deliver Christmas for our customers.”

To this end, John Lewis has revealed plans to recruit more than 7,000 temporary workers across the country this Christmas. The new employees will be spread across the retailer’s supermarkets, department stores and fulfilment centres, including delivery drivers for its online grocery division. Sharon White has also revealed that John Lewis has chartered ships to ensure it has stock available for Christmas, through a freight company it works with to boost import options.


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