John Lewis warns of more store closures after posting huge loss due to Covid-19

11 March 2021, 10:52 | Updated: 11 March 2021, 11:20

John Lewis has recorded its first ever annual loss
John Lewis has recorded its first ever annual loss. Picture: PA
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

The John Lewis Partnership has warned more of its 42 John Lewis shops may not open after lockdown after recording its first ever annual loss.

The group, which also owns Waitrose, plunged to a pre-tax loss of £517 million in the year 30 January as a result of the pandemic.

This can be compared to the year prior, when the group made a profit of £146 million.

The 2020 loss is also the first in the group's history dating back to 1864 - and is also the first time staff bonuses have been scrapped since 1953.

Decisions are expected to be made by the end of March on which stores could ultimately be affected.

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"There is no getting away from the fact that some areas can no longer profitably sustain a John Lewis store," said chairman Sharon White.

"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.

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Meanwhile, a John Lewis spokesman said that group would make all efforts to redeploy affected staff elsewhere, making redundancies a "last resort".

It comes as store closures last year already saw 1,300 jobs impacted; however, the company says financial results are expected to get worse.

The group is now looking to invest £800 million in the business which will only partially be offset by annual cost savings of £300 million.

There are hopes staff bonuses will also resume, with further hopes of making profit in the years ahead.

"The coming year is a crucial one in our five-year turnaround of the partnership as we set ourselves back on the path of sustainable profit," the company said.