Slogan’s appeal hits store group’s annual profits

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Staff at John Lewis and Waitrose were yesterday braced for their first bonus cut in three years as the employee-owned firm shows it is not immune from the economic downturn.

John Lewis Partnership publishes full-year results on Wednesday, when analysts expect it to announce a payout of between 12 per cent and 14 per cent of salary for the 77,000 staff, known as partners. They received 18 per cent of salary from a bonus pot of £194.5m last year.

One analyst said: “Although John Lewis is outstanding in many ways, it is not immune from the wider pressures on the economy, and inevitably this will affect the bonus.”

In September, John Lewis announced half-year profits fell by almost a fifth to £90.4m after it was hurt by its promise never to be beaten on price, forcing it to match rivals’ promotions.

Another analyst forecast pre-tax profits for the full year of £350m, compared to £366m last year.

In weekly figures published yesterday, John Lewis said department store sales for the seven days to last Saturday were flat on a year earlier at £54m.

However, the performance was distorted by the timing of the half-term holiday and John Lewis pointed out that sales across February were 5.7 per cent higher than last year.

Next week’s results are expected to show market share gains for grocery chain Waitrose. Department stores were boosted by online growth in 2011 and a strong Christmas supported by an acclaimed advertising campaign.