John Lewis staff bonus scrapped for the first time since 1953 - here’s why

Thursday, 17th September 2020, 10:12 am
Updated Thursday, 17th September 2020, 11:12 am
Department store chain John Lewis has confirmed that staff will not receive a bonus this year, the first time since 1953, after stores were closed during the lockdown period (Photo: Shutterstock)

Department store chain John Lewis has confirmed that staff will not receive a bonus this year, the first time since 1953, after stores were closed during the lockdown period.

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The retailer had warned that it may not pay staff the usual bonus before the coronavirus pandemic hit due to competition eating into profits, but the store closures hit trade further.

Similar to other companies also hit hard by lockdown, the partnership, which also owns Waitrose, has had to cut more than a thousand jobs as it closes some stores for good.

Fall in sales

The company said it posted a £55m loss for the six months to 25 July, after higher costs offset a 1 per cent rise in sales, estimating that in its first half, John Lewis shops took a hit of £200m in sales.

John Lewis suffered a 10 per cent fall in sales for the six months to July, but supermarket chain Waitrose saw sales rise by nearly 10 per cent.

The wider group in general saw additional coronavirus-related costs total around £50m.

The last time that the department store chain decided not to pay a bonus to its staff was in 1948, when it was axed in the aftermath of the Second World War and remained at zero until 1953.

However, Chairwoman Dame Sharon White explains that this recent decision does not take away from the commitment shown by staff.

Ms White said: "I know this will come as a blow to partners who have worked so hard this year.

"The decision in no way detracts from the commitment and dedication that you have shown.

"The partnership found itself in a similar position in 1948 when the bonus was halted following the Second World War.

"We came through then to be even stronger than before and we will do so again."