John Lewis boss says it will take two years longer than expected to return to profit
The boss of John Lewis said yesterday that its return to profit will take two years longer than expected.
Dame Sharon White, chair of the John Lewis Partnership, which is behind department store and supermarket chain Waitrose, was speaking as the company posted losses of £59m for the first six months of this year.
This was an improvement on the £99 million lost in the same period last year and total sales across the partnership increased by 2 per cent.
The group said its five-year transformation plan to return to profitability, which was launched in 2020, will take two years longer than expected due to “inflationary pressures”. That suggests it won’t turn a profit again until 2027-28.
The difficult financial situation will threaten future bonuses for John Lewis staff, who are partners in the business.
Delays: John Lewis boss Dame Sharon White (pictured) said her five-year transformation plan to get back into the black will take longer than planned.
White said they “will have to adopt the mentality of the homeowners here,” adding, “If the roof on your house needs to be repaired, everyone would work together to fix it.” “We are doing everything we can and we will see where we are when March comes.”
The 56-year-old businesswoman also criticized authorities’ failure to tackle “extensive” store looting. The cost of shoplifting across the group is expected to rise by £12 million.
In addition to the value of stolen items, the company also spends millions of pounds on security measures to combat what amounts to organized looting and attacks on staff.
White is calling on the police and the government to act, for example by introducing a law that makes attacks on shop workers a specific criminal offense in England and Wales, as is already the case in Scotland.
White met Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley to discuss the crisis earlier this week.
White, former chief executive of media regulator Ofcom, said: “All retailers are seeing thefts that are much more organized criminal than the opportunistic thefts they may have seen in the past, or linked to cost of living pressures.”
She said: ‘It’s almost become a job. It is theft for hire. We have some situations where we have stores that are relatively close together and a group goes from store to store.’
He said police are following up on very few incidents, adding: “It’s organised, it’s commissioned and it’s a problem that’s rife in retail.”
‘We have raised the issue because the safety of our staff is incredibly important.
‘We also believe that this is an important issue from a social point of view.
‘That’s why we’ve been calling for changes to the legislation specifically to tackle abuse of shop workers. We want to work more closely with the police.
“To be honest, if we don’t deal with low-level crime, that’s a big problem for society as a whole.”