John Lewis staff bonus on the line as boss Sharon White sounds alarm over the uncertain economic outlook
John Lewis’s boss has warned staff may not receive a bonus for this year – and admitted that even she was hesitating over spending amid the uncertain economic outlook.
Dame Sharon White said everyone was feeling ‘quite a bit poorer’ and that while consumers were hoping for the first normal Christmas in three years, many were tightening their belts.
That will have an impact on profits at the John Lewis Partnership –which includes the John Lewis department store chain as well as Waitrose supermarkets – when they are reported next year.
Christmas gloom: John Lewis chairman Dame Sharon White (pictured) has warned that staff may not receive a bonus for this year
Asked whether the employee-owned business would be in a position to pay its 80,000 ‘partners’ a bonus, White said: ‘I think it’s going to be tough.’
White, chairman of the partnership, said she was not immune from the darkening economic picture.
She said: ‘Customers are still spending but they are being much more thoughtful and intentional in how they’re spending.
‘They might be putting one or two fewer things in their basket – I’m doing the same. You’re thinking, ‘Do I need it today? Am I going to wait and see how the next two or three months go?’
White’s admission may raise eyebrows given her annual pay packet of £1.15million for 2021-22 – though she donated her bonus of £29,700, to the British Red Cross.
The staff bonus was scrapped during the pandemic for the first time in more than six decades but restored after the last financial year at a level of 3 per cent.