JLP: new strategic review as profits plummet

Laura Jacobson
Head of Insight - RA UK

Date : 05 March 2020

Profit delivered by Waitrose was more than offset by decline in John Lewis, as both parts of the business recorded a decline in sales.

The Partnership's overall reported a 23.1% decline in profit, its third drop in consecutive years, prompting new Chairman Sharon White to launch a new strategic review of the business that is expected to take three to five years to deliver results.

Results in brief

For the year ending 25th January 2020:

  • Partnership gross sales declined -1.5%, to £11.5bn
  • Partnership profit before tax and exceptional items declined -23.1%, to £123m
  • Waitrose gross sales declined -1.1% to £6.8bn
  • Waitrose like-for-like sales declined 0.2%
  • Waitrose operating profit before exceptionals grew +4.7% to £213m
  • Partners will receive a 2% bonus

Five areas of focus for the year ahead

New strategic review - this work will focus on strengthening the Partnership's core retail business, as well as developing new services outside retail. The review will be completed by autumn, with an udpate expected at half year results.

Online investment - plans ahead of the separation from Ocado in September include rolling out online delivery capabilities at more stores, and opening its new Enfield fulfilment centre. Waitrose.com reported sales growth of 13% over the financial year, and the business has previously stated bold ambitions to treble the size of its online business.

Synergies between Waitrose & John Lewis - The two Partnership companies, now run by one team of executive directors, will promote closer working together and slim down their head office functions. This will help cut costs and over time make it easier for customers to shop across the two brands.

Store closures - Waitrose announced it will close a further three stores later this year: Helensburgh, Four Oaks and Waterlooville. Right-sizing the store estate will be part of the strategic review, which may result in further repurposing and space reduction in existing stores, as well as format innovation and possibly further closures

Core values including service and sustainability remain priorities - this includes plans for further roll-out of the Unpacked concept

Want to know more?

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