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John Lewis staff warned of job losses after £78m loss

John Lewis staff warned of job losses after £78m loss

Bosses at the John Lewis Partnership said employees in the co-owned firm are likely to be affected by more aggressive cost-cutting to help reverse heavy losses.

As well as its flagship Oxford Street store, the department store chain has branches at Brent Cross shopping centre in north London, Westfield London, Westfield Stratford City, Welwyn Garden City and High Wycombe.

It closed its store in Watford in the then intu shopping centre in 2020, after 30 years in the centre and 80 years in the town.

Chairwoman Dame Sharon White told staff in a letter: “As we need to become more efficient and productive, that will have an impact on our number of Partners.

“That’s a massive regret to me personally.”

The group, which runs the department store chain and the Waitrose supermarket arm, recorded a £78 million loss for the year to January 28.

The loss followed a £181 million profit in the previous year, with John Lewis blaming “inflationary pressures”.

JLP recorded a £234 million pre-tax loss once additional costs were taken into account.

Ms White also apologised to “exceptional” staff for the lack of a bonus after a “tough set of results”.

Her letter said: “Inflation has had a big impact on the partnership and sent our costs soaring – up almost £180 million on last year.

“I am sorry that the loss means we won’t be able to share a bonus this year or do as much as we would like on pay.”

On Thursday, the retail group said it fell to the loss after customers bought less, with sales declining by 2% to £12.25 billion for the year.

Waitrose sales declined by 3% to £7.3 billion, while John Lewis recorded 0.2% growth to £4.94 billion.

The partnership said on Thursday that it plans to triple its cost savings target from £300 million to around £900 million by January 2026.

This is likely to include an extra £236 million from further “simplification after head office changes resulted in 1,500 jobs being cut by 2021.

The update came a day after the group appointed turnaround specialist Nish Kankiwala as its first chief executive, in a shake-up of the leadership structure.

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