ABOUT 800 staff who work for John Lewis in Sheffield were told this week that they are to receive a bonus of 14% of their salary.
Employees at the department store in Barkers Pool and the Waitrose supermarket in Ecclesall Road will benefit along with all 81,000 partners, even though the company’s profits nationally have fallen.
The latest bonus is equivalent to more than seven weeks’ pay and represents a drop on last year, when staff received 18%, or an average of more than nine weeks’ pay.
John Lewis Partnership distributes profit to its partners rather than to shareholders
Chairman Charlie Mayfield said the latest figures reflected “a good sales performance in a tough year for the economy”.
Although profits were lower than last year, they were better than expected. “Profound changes are taking place in the retail sector and importantly this was a year when we upped the pace of innovation and investment. That came at the price of some short-term profit but leaves us in a good place at the start of this year.
“Pretty much anything can now be sold online and our ability to originate and source unique products that our customers want and only we can sell will become more and more important.”
The group operating profit dropped by 8.7% to £393.3m and the profit before partnership bonus and tax fell 3.8% to £353.8m.
In Sheffield, in-store sales were down by 3%, while online sales grew by 20%, giving an overall gross sales figure increase of 1% compared to the national performance of 6.4%
New managing director James Prince said: “The figures show that there is a change in the dynamic of the way people shop. Time and convenience is increasingly important to our customers and there are now many more ways for them to shop with us.
“It is clearly a challenging economic climate, but we are pleased to be in a plus position to take the business forward. We have a new customer collection point opening in store on March 19 and we are very excited to have obtained that investment for Sheffield.’’
Sheffield saw strong sales in the electrical and home technology departments, esepcially of TVs and coffee makers. “We extended our menswear department to include new brands such as Lyle & Scott, Hackett and Ben Sherman and have been pleased with the result,” added Mr Prince.
“Barbour continues to perform well in both men’s and women’s fashion. Womenswear brands including Phase Eight, Hobbs, Oasis, Mint Velvet and Warehouse have also seen strong sales and we are really pleased to have seen a fantastic reaction to Mango, which we have recently added to our womenswear department.”
The Sheffield store remains the focal point of the much-delayed Sevenstone retail quarter. Initially it was planned to build a new and bigger store on the site of the former Wellington Street fire station but it is now thought that attention centres on redeveloping the existing premises. Talks continue with developers Hammerson.