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Published on January 9th, 2020 | by The GC Team

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Blue Christmas for John Lewis

Trading at the John Lewis Partnership declined over the Christmas period the business said today as it reported its performance for the seven weeks from 17th November to 4th January.

Sales fell 1.8% to £2,167million compared to last year – the outcome shedding doubt on whether the firm will pay its Partnership Bonus.

Chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said the Partnership Board will meet in February to decide whether it is prudent to pay the annual staff handout.

“The decision will be influenced by our level of profitability, planned investment and maintaining the strength of our balance sheet,” he commented.

Sales at John Lewis fell 2.3% on last year (down 2.0% on a like-for-like basis), with Electricals & Home Technology, down 4.0%, the worst affected.  

Mayfield commented on a significant variation in levels of demand, with Black Friday sales up 10.0% on the equivalent period last year followed by more subdued demand in the subsequent weeks.

Waitrose & Partners saw sales fall 1.3% due to shop closures, but like-for-likes were up 0.4%.

“At the full year we expect profits in Waitrose & Partners to be broadly in line with last year,” said Mayfield.

“In John Lewis & Partners we will reverse the losses incurred in the first half of the year, but profits will be substantially down on last year. We therefore expect that Partnership profit before exceptionals will be significantly lower than last year.”

The business also announced today that Paula Nickolds, current Managing Director of John Lewis & Partners, will step down from the Board and will leave the Partnership in February 2020.

She has been with the firm for 25 years and played a central role in the development of John Lewis & Partners over the last 10 years in a variety of senior positions.

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