NEWS

John Lewis scraps staff bonus following major cutbacks

Published on: 18th September 2020

John Lewis is also developing plans to reduce the size of its Oxford Street flagship store in London, converting almost half of the store into offices.

The John Lewis Partnership confirmed this week that staff members will not receive a bonus for the first time since 1953, following a raft of store closures and job losses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The group posted a £55m loss for the six months to July 25th after higher costs offset an increase in revenues. The group further announced it would be closing four branches of Waitrose, losing more than 250 jobs. 1,300 jobs have already been put at at risk following the announcement of eight John Lewis store closures back in July.

Dame Sharon White, chairwoman, John Lewis partnership, told partners on Thursday that the absence of a bonus this year “will come as a blow”. She commented: “The pandemic has brought forward changes in consumer shopping habits which might have taken five years into five months. Both brands entered the crisis with strong and established online businesses and in the case of Waitrose, plans for expansion well under way in preparation for the end of the relationship with Ocado. Our digital businesses have been key to underpinning our first half performance.”

Meanwhile, John Lewis is working on plans to reduce the size of its Oxford Street flagship store in London, converting almost half of the store into offices. The new plans will result in a reduced retail footprint which will help curb the business’s losses.

The staff-owned department store has applied for planning permission to change up to three floors, those currently home to children’s ranges, electrical goods, kitchen and bathroom departments as well as dining areas, into office space for rent.

Plans filed with Westminster council leave four floors of retail space below the three new office floors. A new cycle parking area is planned in the lower basement, and the store’s roof garden dining area on the sixth floor is to be retained.

John Lewis said it had no immediate plans to alter the building on Oxford Street, where it has traded since 1864, but was seeking planning permission to give it options in the future. If approved, the planning permission would last 10 years.

Sharon has said she would look at downsizing stores as part of plans to reshape the group for the future.

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