John Lewis partners have an 18% bonus in store

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ALMOST 800 staff who work for John Lewis in Sheffield were told this week that they are to receive a bonus of 18% of their salary.

The ‘partners’ – 538 at the department store in Barkers Pool and 261 at the Waitrose supermarket in Ecclesall Road – will benefit from the business’s market-beating sales growth and “healthy” increase in profits over the last year.

Each member of staff is a co-owner in the John Lewis Partnership, part of the UK’s largest employee co-operative.

The latest bonus, an average of more than nine weeks’ pay, is based on an increase in John Lewis’s operating profit of 22.2% and Waitrose, 3%. Gross sales were up 11.9% and 9.8%, respectively.

Chairman Charlie Mayfield said the performance was “the result of our 76,500 partners’ determination to give customers the best possible shopping experience”.

He said more difficult conditions were expected for much of the year but “we are confident of our plans. We have not yet seen inflation coming through at the levels reported and we remain committed to improving value for our customers in the year ahead.

“We will invest £0.6bn this year and expect to create 4,300 new jobs.”

John Lewis say the group are continuing to expand, although there is no specific reference to their ambitions in Sheffield city centre as part of the delayed £600m Sevenstone retail quarter.

A spokesperson said this week: “John Lewis is still committed to having a presence in the Sevenstone development and we continue to work closely with the council and developers Hammerson on this.”

Initial plans for a new and bigger department store of the site of the former Wellington Street fire station were hit by the recession, and it is now thought the emphasis has switched to redeveloping the existing premises as part of a major overhaul of the Sevenstone scheme.

A progress report is expected to go before councillors later this month.

Meanwhile, Lisa Williams, managing director of John Lewis Sheffield, reflected this week on “a great year”, adding: “We are delighted to be able to show a growth in sales against the previous trading year, given the challenging times we continue to trade in.

“In spite of the extreme winter weather, we traded extremely well throughout Christmas and Clearance and the new year saw an uplift in sales within our home and electricals departments as customers purchased ahead of the rise in VAT.”

Online sales grew substantially, the delivery area was expanded and the Click and Collect service further developed.

Ms Williams added: “We have made significant investment in refurbishing our escalators, improving lighting levels in the shop and upgrading our car park – all helping to enhance our customer shopping experience.”

A profitable week will end with an interesting prospect – working opposite where the Liberal Democrat conference is being held amid a large demonstration.