John Lewis Partnership has reinstated its staff bonus as its losses narrowed and its department store chain achieved its highest sales in its history.
John Lewis and Waitrose staff did not receive an annual bonus in 2021 for the first time in more than 60 years, as the organisation saw losses surge because of pandemic disruption.
In 2020, chairwoman Dame Sharon White told employees – whom it calls partners – that its bonus would resume once profit exceeded £150m and its debt ratio fell below 4x.
Today it announced that profit before bonus, tax, exceptional items reached £181m in the year ended 29 January 2022, while its debt ratio was 2.3x, thus triggering the staff bonus.
However, the retailer remains in the red; it recorded a pre-tax loss of £26m, including exceptional costs and the bonus, albeit this figure had narrowed 95% since 2020/21.
As well as applying a 3% bonus, it has increased staff pay by 2% and will pay the voluntary real Living Wage.
Dame Sharon said: “Given the positive performance, and the extraordinary contribution of partners, the board decided to share a 3% bonus with partners; while the executive team and I are donating our bonus to the British Red Cross.
“With our partners, like the whole country, facing a cost of living squeeze, we believe that this is the right time to pay the voluntary Real Living Wage, nationwide. In addition, this year’s pay review has been set at 2%, making the total pay investment £54m (excluding bonus, which adds a further £46m).”
JLP angered employees last year when it emerged that 16 managers were among the recipients of 4,000 “special contribution awards”, despite the staff bonus being paused.
JLP’s results statement noted that it last year became the first UK retailer to announce equal parental pay and leave, and introduced two weeks’ paid leave for any employee who experiences pregnancy loss.
The past year also saw the launch of its “LGV driver academy” and driver apprenticeships in response to the national lorry driver shortage, as well as its “School of Service” in John Lewis Stratford, which provides partners from both brands with customer service training.
It made no claims under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme last year.
Dame Sharon told employees: “I want to thank you for your commitment and dedication in what has been another tough year. With the pandemic and with so much change within our business, I don’t underestimate the personal impact and I am truly grateful.”