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John Lewis losses set to narrow despite triple whammy


John Lewis losses to shrink despite triple whammy

Vote of Confidence: President Sharon White

John Lewis will report another loss this week when new chief executive Nish Kankiwala reports his first set of results since taking the helm of the struggling retailer.

Britain’s largest employee-owned business, which includes department store John Lewis and grocer Waitrose, has been hit hard by a triple whammy of the pandemic, rampant inflation and falling cost of living. Kankiwala is expected to announce smaller losses in the six months to July compared with the £99m deficit recorded during the same period a year ago.

He is likely to point out that it is not unusual for John Lewis to make a first-half loss (it has done so in three of the last four years) as trading is skewed towards the key Christmas period. However, he is expected to be very cautious about the business prospects.

It will be the first set of figures published since president Dame Sharon White faced a vote of confidence in May, when she won the support of the association’s council to continue leading the group.

John Lewis racked up losses of £234m last year and in March told its 74,000 employees, known as partners, they would not receive their annual bonus.

The mutual, which has limited ways to raise money, is also burdened by £1.7bn of debt, while its pension fund recently fell into a £69m deficit. It was reported earlier this year that the company could dilute the partnership to attract new investors.

But in a recent interview with The Mail on Sunday, Kankiwala, the company’s first chief executive, said he was “very committed” to maintaining mutual status.

“Deep down in my heart, I believe in a business model that aims for commercial success, but is also sustainable in the very long term, where the rewards are shared with everyone in the business,” he said. “I really think the partnership model is better.”

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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