HUNDREDS of John Lewis staff in the North East have landed a bonus windfall worth two months' pay as the retailer defied the high street spending slump.
All of the company’s 76,500 staff will share a bonus pot of £194.5m, including more than 700 at the flagship John Lewis department store in Eldon Square in Newcastle and others at the Waitrose supermarkets in Hexham, Newcastle and Ponteland.
The employee-owned firm said a strong year for its stores, including a rise in Christmas sales at the Newcastle department store, saw the pay-out pot top last year’s £151m. Barry Blamire, managing director of John Lewis Newcastle, said sales had been boosted by longer opening hours and the £2.6m revamp of the womenswear department.
“Sales at our department store in Eldon Square remained solid in 2010 and we saw a large uplift in online sales in the region, particularly during the poor weather which meant that our North East sales (including multichannel) increased by 4% on last year,” he added. “Today’s results confirm our position as one of the region’s leading multichannel retailers and this is something that all our partners at John Lewis Newcastle can be extremely proud of.”
The company also announced plans to create 4,300 jobs this year and invest £600m in the business, but warned trading would be more difficult in 2011.
The bonus payout came as the partnership posted a 20% rise in pre-tax profits to £367.9m for the year to January 31, as sales soared 10.6% to £8.21bn.
As has become tradition, John Lewis partners gathered yesterday morning before their stores opened and were told the bonus they will receive this year – 18% of their salary, roughly nine weeks’ pay.
The store’s managing director and a chosen star performer or long-serving partner unveil the payout – to applause and cheers from the assembled employees.