Store staff to get bonus in spite of sales fall

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JOHN Lewis staff will share a £165.2m bonus pot – worth around £2,000 for each worker – despite a four per cent fall in the group’s annual profits.

The bonus, worth 14 per cent of each worker’s salary or the equivalent of seven week’s pay, was down from last year’s 18 per cent pay-out.

But staff at John Lewis’s Sheffield store welcomed the news, saying it was considerably more than had been expected.

Janet Holden, a visual merchandiser who creates internal displays at the Sheffield store, said: “We had heard it would be nine per cent, so 14 per is brilliant. In the current tough economic climate, it’s fantastic news.”

Ms Holden said she would spend her bonus on a honeymoon in Malaysia.

James Prince, managing director of John Lewis Sheffield, said a large number of the 500 staff at the store planned to spend their bonus on their annual holiday.

“We get it in March so it’s good timing for the family summer holiday,” he said. “We also have a number of golden wedding anniversaries coming up, although a few people are saying they’re going to keep hold of their bonuses.”

The John Lewis partnership, which is owned by its 81,000 employees, reported a four per cent fall in profits to £353.8m in the year to January 28, the first profits fall since 2009. The fall was partly due to the group’s price matching “Never Knowingly Undersold” pledge, which cost it £23.8m last year.

Another reason was its brand-match campaign at its supermarket division Waitrose, which cost millions of pounds but helped to protect sales.

Marketing campaigns, including those by celebrity chefs Heston Blumenthal and Delia Smith for Waitrose and its successful pre-Christmas advert for John Lewis, helped boost revenues, which rose 6.4 per cent to £8.7bn.

The improvement has continued since then, with sales up 7.7 per cent in the five weeks since the end of January.

Chairman Charlie Mayfield said he was “cautiously optimistic” conditions would continue to improve this year and events such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics would lift the spirits of consumers.

John Lewis says economy to bounce back, Business Thursday Page 1.