UK’s John Lewis returns to profit but warns of uncertainty ahead By Reuters

© Reuters. Shoppers pass a branch of John Lewis in London, Britain, September 15, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Files

LONDON (Reuters) -British retailer, the John Lewis Partnership, on Thursday reported a return to first half profit after a COVID-pandemic hit loss last year but warned of “significant uncertainty” ahead.

The employee-owned group, which runs John Lewis department stores and upmarket supermarket chain Waitrose, said that like the rest of the UK retail industry it was having to manage global supply chain challenges and labour shortages.

It was also seeing inflationary pressures, which it expects to persist.

The group said it is taking a raft of measures to mitigate these risks and deliver Christmas for customers.

These include a campaign to recruit more full time drivers, recruiting 7,000 temporary seasonal workers and booking additional freight to make sure Christmas products arrive on time.

The group made a first half profit before exceptional items of 69 million pounds ($95 million), versus a loss of 55 million pounds in the same period last year, helped by 66 million pounds of cost savings and government business rates relief of 58 million pounds.

“We have faced our biggest ever test and we will come through stronger,” said Chairman Sharon White

Last October she set out a five-year recovery plan that involves investing 1 billion pounds to expand the partnership’s online business and improve its stores, diversify beyond retail and seek more partnerships.

The plan, which is also seeking efficiency savings of 300 million pounds a year by 2022, targets profit of 400 million pounds by year five.

($1 = 0.7239 pounds)

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