John Lewis falls to £78m loss and ditches staff bonus

John Lewis falls to £78m loss and ditches staff bonus

The John Lewis Partnership has confirmed that it will ditch the annual bonus for its 74,000 employees next year after it sank back into the red.

The employee-owned group posted a loss before exceptional items and tax of £78 million for the year to January 28, down from a profit of £181 million last year. Analysts had forecast a smaller loss of £50 million.

The partnership, which comprises John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarkets, blamed its performance on inflationary pressures, property write downs, supply chain challenges and a fire in one of its warehouses.

It said that the impact of inflation added £179 million to its costs in the year. Adding in exceptional costs, the biggest one being a write down in the value of Waitrose shops, the loss was £234 million.

Total sales were down 2 per cent to £12.25 billion as its shoppers also “felt the pain of inflation”; Waitrose sales were down 3 per cent to £7.31 billion and John Lewis sales were up 0.2 per cent to £4.94 billion.

The partnership said that the big online growth of the pandemic years had been “partly reversed” and admitted that its shoppers had shifted some of their … Read More

Immigration rules relaxed for builders and carpenters

Immigration rules relaxed for builders and carpenters

Overseas bricklayers and carpenters could be able to get work visas more easily in the UK after the government updated its shortage occupation list.

The list, which now also includes roofers and plasterers, highlights occupations that employers are struggling to fill.

However, hospitality, which has had problems recruiting, was not included.

The change on construction workers is not expected to make a major difference to overall migration figures.

Government advisors in the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) looked at 26 occupations in construction and hospitality, and recommended five for inclusion on the shortage occupations list.

The committee did not recommend any hospitality occupations be included, although it said Brexit and the pandemic had “significant effects” on both sectors.

The five occupations approved by the committee are:

Bricklayers and masons
Roofers, roof tilers and slaters
Carpenters and joiners
Construction and building trades n.e.c

People on the shortage occupation list are able to apply for a skilled worker visa to come and work in the UK.

The construction and hospitality shortage review, published on the same day as the Budget, reveals vacancies have risen strongly in both hospitality and construction, relative to pre-pandemic levels

From November 2022 to January 2023, compared with … Read More

Grant Shapps backs nuclear power in net zero push

Grant Shapps backs nuclear power in net zero push

Nuclear must form part of a decarbonised portfolio of energy production, argued Grant Shapps, energy and net zero secretary.

He said: “If you want to get to net zero and get rid of hydrocarbons, we have to accept that base loads are required somewhere. Nuclear power can and should be part of that.”

Shapps told the Environmental Audit Committee yesterday that by launching Great British Nuclear, the government will provide a “much more stable platform” for those wanting to invest in nuclear power as well as more clarity on the trajectory and pace of its development.

He also revealed he will soon publish a detailed plan on the development and use of hydrogen and expressed his support for onshore wind, which he said is opposed by only four per cent of people, according to a government public attitudes tracker

The UK is under pressure to deliver a set of policies that would drive investment in low-carbon technology and match the Inflation Reduction Act in the US and the Green Deal Industrial Plan in the EU.

Analysts are expecting what has been dubbed as the government’s “Green Day” before the end of March, when it must abide by a High Court … Read More

Deliveroo shares slide as 350 jobs loss spooks market confidence

Deliveroo shares slide as 350 jobs loss spooks market confidence

Deliveroo shares have continued to pedal downwards this morning as investors struggle to regain confidence in the brand following its decision to slash some 350 job roles and disastrous IPO listing.

It comes as the food delivery group, which has seen its share price fall consecutively over the past 12 months due to tough market conditions, posted a 14 per cent revenue increase to £1.9bn – however it did not appear to be enough to sway market confidence.

The listed takeaway service revealed net cash was down 23 per cent to £996m from £1.2bn in the same period last year as chief Will Shu noted that the macroeconomic outlook for the company “remains uncertain”.

The pandemic favourite, also reported a gross profit rise of 30 per cent of £643m up from 495m in 2021.

“The macroeconomic outlook for the year ahead remains uncertain, but our record in the past 12 months makes me optimistic about our ability to adapt and continue to deliver on our plans to drive profitable growth,” Shu said.

The fall in investor confidence comes as Shu announced last month that he had been forced to slash 350 job roles across all levels as it attempts to … Read More

UK faces the biggest fall in spending power for 70 years as cost of living bites

UK faces the biggest fall in spending power for 70 years as cost of living bites

The UK faces its biggest fall in spending power for 70 years as the surging cost of living eats into people’s wages.

The government’s independent forecaster said that household incomes – once rising prices were taken into account – would drop by 6% this year and next.

Living standards won’t recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2027, it warned.

It came as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said the economy would shrink this year but avoid recession.

Energy and food bills have shot up due to the war in Ukraine and pandemic, and are squeezing household budgets.

Inflation – the rate at which prices are rising – is currently in double digits.

It is set to more than halve to 2.9% by the end of this year, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). But for now, the figure remains very high, and well ahead of average wages.

The drop in real household disposable income would represent “the largest two-year fall in living standards since records began in the 1950s,” Richard Hughes, chairman of the OBR, said.

“We think households are going to dip into some of their savings to help manage the squeeze on living standards and that supports growth … Read More