John Lewis losses set to narrow despite triple whammy

John Lewis losses set to narrow despite triple whammy

Confidence vote: Chairwoman Sharon White

Confidence vote: Chairwoman Sharon White

John Lewis is set to report another loss this week as new chief executive Nish Kankiwala unveils his first set of results since taking the helm at the struggling retailer.

Britain’s biggest employee-owned business, which includes the John Lewis department stores and grocer Waitrose, has been hit hard by a triple whammy of the pandemic, rampant inflation and the cost-of-living squeeze. Kankiwala is expected to announce lower losses in the six months to July compared with the £99 million shortfall posted for the same period a year ago.

He is likely to point out that it is not unusual for John Lewis to make a loss in the first half – it has done so in three of the past four years – as trading is skewed towards the key Christmas period. However, he is expected to sound a very cautious note on the trading outlook.

It will be the first set of numbers released since chairwoman Dame Sharon White faced a confidence vote in May – when she won the support of the partnership’s council to continue leading the group.

John Lewis racked up losses of £234 million last year and in March told its 74,000 staff, known as partners, that they would not be getting their annual bonus.

The mutual, which has limited ways of raising money, is also weighed down by a £1.7 billion debt pile, while its pension fund recently swung into a £69 million deficit. It followed reports earlier this year that the business might dilute the partnership in order to bring in new investors.

But in a recent interview with The Mail on Sunday, Kankiwala, the firm’s first ever chief executive, said he was ‘very committed’ to keeping the mutual status.

‘In my heart of hearts, I believe in a business model that is about commercial success, but is also sustainable in the very long run, where you share rewards with everyone in the business,’ he said. ‘I genuinely feel that the partnership model is a better one.’

source: dailymail.co.uk