Waitrose sales plummet to £3.6bn as John Lewis reports half-year loss

Waitrose has reported a 5% drop in like-for-like sales to £3.6 billion, as its parent company The John Lewis Partnership reports a £99 million loss for the half-year to 30 July.

The half-year loss, compared to £29 million last year, is attributed to the retail giant “forgoing profit” to help customers and partners through cost-of-living crisis.

This comes as the company announced a one-off cost of living support payment for its full-time employees of £500, with part-time workers receiving less.

Entry level wages for employees, known as partners, would also increase by 4%, at a cost of £10 million.

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“We are the lifeblood of the business – not just employees but owners. We have doubled (to £800,000) financial assistance for Partners facing hardship,” chairman Dame Sharon White said.

“We are making an active choice to spend £45 million to help our Partners, in addition to the April 2022 pay increase and bonus.”

Customer transactions at the supermarket were up 14% year-on-year, despite basket sizes being smaller by nearly a fifth, with nearly seven in 10 baskets including a product from its Essential range.

Online sales accounted for 15% of sales; significantly up on pre-pandemic levels and 5% below the pandemic peak of around 20%.

“No one could have predicted the scale of the cost-of-living crisis that has materialised, with energy prices and inflation rising ahead of anyone’s expectations,” White said.

“As a business, we have faced unprecedented cost inflation across grocery and general merchandise.”

She added: “We are responding to the cost-of-living crisis by supporting those who need it and stepping up our efficiency programme.

“We are forgoing profit by making choices based on the sort of business we are, led by our purpose – working in partnership for a happier world – by helping our partners, customers, communities and suppliers.”

Commenting on the future of the company, White concluded: “the outlook is uniquely uncertain. We believe we are well placed to navigate the current inflationary headwinds.”



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