John Lewis warns of further store closures after reporting losses of £517m

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 10:13 am
Updated Thursday, 11th March 2021, 10:14 am
The John Lewis Partnership has said there may be further store closures, as it feels the impact of the Covid pandemic (Photo: Shutterstock)

The John Lewis Partnership has said there may be further store closures, as it feels the impact of the Covid pandemic.

The group, which also owns grocery chain Waitrose, said it does not expect all its John Lewis shops to reopen when lockdown restrictions ease.

The firm also expects results to get worse in the current financial year, as it looks to invest £800 million in the business as part of a strategy to turn around its fortunes.

Although it did not say how many of its 42 John Lewis shops are under threat of closure, the group confirmed it was currently in talks with landlords and is set to make a final decision at the end of the month.

‘We do not expect to reopen all our John Lewis shops at the end of lockdown’

The group reported pre-tax losses of £517m for the year to 30 January 2021, compared to profits of £146m for 2019.

This marked the first annual loss in the group’s history, dating back to 1864.

Last year, the company announced that it would not pay a bonus to its staff for the first time since 1953, and cut 1,300 jobs amid coronavirus restrictions on stores.

The group has said it wants to restart staff bonuses as soon as profits recover to at least £150 million on a sustainable basis.

Chairman Sharon White said: “There is no getting away from the fact that some areas can no longer profitably sustain a John Lewis store.

“Regrettably, we do not expect to reopen all our John Lewis shops at the end of lockdown, which will also have implications for our supply chain.

“We are currently in discussions with landlords and final decisions are expected by the end of March.

“We will do everything we can to lessen the impact and will continue to provide community funds to support local areas.”