21 September 2020
The Weekly

The John Lewis Partnership has published its unaudited financial results for H1 2020. Although sales were up +1% overall, shoppers spent more on less profitable lines, leading to a loss across John Lewis and Waitrose of £55m – a similar picture to H1 2019. At John Lewis, online sales growth was strong at +73%, helping to offset the impact of shop closures – overall sales were down -10% YoY. The business has taken the decision not to reopen eight stores, but says that sales momentum is starting to build in the reopened stores, with sales down around -30% YoY. The stores in retail parks, which are down by around -15%, are doing better than those in city centres (especially London, which is down around -40%). Online business now accounts for more than 60% of sales, from 40% before the pandemic.

John Lewis is working on plans for a massive reduction in the size of its London flagship store, converting entire floors into offices, as shoppers switch to buying online. The staff-owned department store has applied for planning permission to switch up to three floors of its landmark Oxford Street store – which currently house children’s ranges, electrical goods, kitchen and bathroom departments as well as dining areas – into office space for rent. Plans filed with Westminster council leave four floors of retail space below the three new office floors. The store’s topmost floors are already largely office and storage space used by the retailer. A new cycle parking area is planned in the lower basement, while the store’s roof garden dining area on the sixth floor would be retained.