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John Lewis removes staff bonus for first time in 67 years amid $ 55million in foreclosure losses

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John Lewis and Waitrose staff members will not receive bonuses for the first time since 1953, after the group was hit with a multi-million pound lockdown loss.

Dame Sharon White, president of the John Lewis Partnership, told her partners the announcement would be a blow after posting a loss of $ 55million for the six months to July 25, after higher costs offset an increase revenues.

She said: The Partnership Council has now confirmed that there will be no bonus next year given our profit outlook.

I know this will be a blow to the partners who have worked so hard this year. The decision in no way detracts from the commitment and dedication you have shown.

The group found themselves in a similar situation in 1948 when the bonus was discontinued after World War II. We managed to be even stronger than before and we will do it again.

During the six months, the company announced the closure of eight John Lewis retail locations, which put 1,300 jobs at risk, as part of its turnaround efforts, including its travel centers at London Airport. Heathrow and London St Pancras, four At Home stores in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth, and two full-size department stores in Birmingham and Watford.

The company also announced plans to close three Waitrose stores at Ipswich Corn Exchange, Caldicot and Shrewsbury, while selling Waitrose Wolverhampton to Tesco, a move that will result in 124 job losses, but 140 Wolverhampton store employees will be transferred to Tesco .

Half-year figures released this morning show online sales growth to have been strong at 73%, helping to offset the impact of store closings, with overall sales down (10)% from last year .

Dame Sharon also said sales momentum was starting to build in reopened stores, with sales down about 30% from last year, ahead of expectations.

Stores in retail parks are down around 15% and doing better than city centers, particularly in London, which is down around 40%.

He said working from home has had a big impact on what people buy, with more TVs and tablets, fewer pants and sneakers.

She said online now accounts for over 60% of sales, up from 40% before the pandemic, forcing the company to reassess how much its stores are contributing to whether our customers are buying online or not, and before the crisis, stores contributed about 6 of every 10 spent online but now contributes about 3.

The first few weeks of trading have been encouraging, the group said, adding that services previously only available in-store, such as personal and household styling, beauty and nursery advice, have performed well.

Meanwhile, he said demand for Waitrose had rebounded strongly since its relationship with Ocado ended on September 1, with online orders increasing 9% in the first week.

Dame Sharon said: The pandemic has brought about changes in consumer buying habits that could have taken five years in five months.

Both brands entered the crisis with strong and established online businesses and, in the case of Waitrose, well-underway expansion plans in preparation for ending the relationship with Ocado.

Our digital activities were essential in supporting our performance in the first half of the year.

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