Staff at John Lewis and Waitrose in Exeter are facing a tough decision today – how to spend a bonus of 15 per cent of their salary, equivalent to nearly eight weeks’ pay.
News of the annual bonus – down slightly on last year’s figure of 17 per cent – came as the John Lewis Partnership announced an operating profit before exceptional costs of £470.9m in the year to January 25.
With sales of over £6bn, Waitrose made an operating profit of £310m – up six per cent on the previous year.
John Lewis made an operating profit of £226.1m – up four per cent year-on-year – on sales of £4bn.
This year staff – known as partners – are to share a bonus pot £202.5m, with holidays among the spending plans of Exeter-based employees.
Kate Connock, branch manager at John Lewis Exeter, said: “We are pleased to have put in a robust performance during our first full year at John Lewis Exeter. There has been lots of interest across beauty, fashion and home but particularly in technology with tablets being much in demand throughout last year.
“It has been a great year at John Lewis Exeter and I would like to thank all our partners who continue to build our reputation as a retailer to trust and have confidence in, for the high standards of service and shopping experience our customers expect.”
Rose Jones, 29, department manager commercial support at John Lewis Exeter, will use her bonus to travel to New Zealand, South America, Burma and Samoa in November.
“I went travelling when I was younger but didn’t think I’d have the chance to go again,” she said. “It really is a double bonus for me – as a partner I am able to request a career break which will allow me to travel and I’ll be getting a bit extra to help fund the trip as well.”
Jo Morgan, 27, visual merchandising partner, joined the John Lewis Partnership when the Exeter store opened in October 2012. She has already spent her bonus this year and is looking forward to a trip to Australia.
“I’ve had such a great year and a half working at John Lewis Exeter,” she said. “This is only the second bonus the shop has seen but we’re all really excited to be celebrating it. I really enjoy my job and it’s enabled me to go to Australia – this is a dream come true for me and I can’t wait to spend three weeks touring around.”
John Lewis also reported a good start to its current trading year, amid more encouraging signs for the economy as a whole.
Charlie Mayfield, chairman of John Lewis Partnership, said: “This has been another good year for the Partnership. Both Waitrose and John Lewis increased market share for the fifth consecutive year, profit before exceptionals has grown by almost 10 per cent and, for the first time, we have achieved sales of over £10 billion.
“As a result of our performance, I am delighted that 91,000 partners will receive a Bonus of 15 per cent, equivalent to nearly 8 weeks’ pay. The bonus reflects the balance of a strong trading year, but also the increased costs of pension provision.”
He added: “Our ownership by partners has played a key role in these results. There are fundamental changes taking place in retail, especially in customer attitudes towards value, convenience and personalisation.
“For several years we have been adapting our business to take advantage of these changes. That has required high levels of investment, organisational change and new capabilities. The level of change has at times been challenging, but partners have understood and embraced the need for their business to continue to develop.”