John Lewis and Waitrose staff will receive bonuses worth 17 per cent of salary after the group shrugged off tough high street conditions to report a 15.8 per cent surge in annual profits.
The John Lewis Partnership said its 84,700 employees would receive the equivalent of nearly nine weeks’ pay after increasing its total bonus pot to £210.8 m.
Each worker – from weekend check-out assistants to chairman Charlie Mayfield – receives the same percentage of salary as a bonus.
The employee-owned firm unveiled the haul after reporting pre-tax, pre-bonus profits of £409.6m for the 12 months to January 26 and said the current year had started well, with like-for-like sales up 13.7 per cent at its department store chain.
The results are a return to profits growth for the retail giant after it suffered a four per cent fall the previous year, triggering the first bonus decline in three years.
Mr Mayfield said: “This has been a good year for the partnership with growth in sales and profit above our expectations.”
The group hailed its website as a key reason for its success, with johnlewis.com sales up 41 per cent to £959m and accounting for a quarter of trade, while online sales at Waitrose rose by 49 per cent over the year.
Sales in its department store chain rose 10.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis thanks to strong demand on johnlewis.com.
Stripping out the online effect, like-for-like sales rose 2.6 per cent across its shops.
Comparable store sales rose 3.4 per cent excluding petrol at its Waitrose supermarket arm, helped by its Brand Price Match offer.
The group said it benefited from an acceleration of sales growth in the final quarter, up 12 per cent across the department stores, despite the snow disruption that hit many other retailers.
However it warned that sales growth would be slower this year as the market remains “subdued”.
John Lewis paid £125m into its staff final salary pension scheme, but said it would be reviewing the fund over the next 18 months to two years to ensure it remains affordable.
The group, one of the few companies still offering a non-contributory, final salary pension scheme, stressed it was committed to maintaining a final salary pension and said it wanted it to be fair and sustainable.