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John Lewis boss says turnaround plan will take longer than scheduled


John Lewis boss says turnaround plan will take longer than scheduled

John Lewis boss says its turnaround plan will take two years longer than scheduled

John Lewis’s boss yesterday said its turnaround plan will take two years longer than scheduled.

Dame Sharon White, chairman of John Lewis Partnership, which is behind the department store chain and Waitrose supermarkets, spoke as the company posted losses of £59million for the first six months of this year.

That was an improvement on the £99million lost in the same period last year and total sales across the partnership were up 2 per cent.

The group said its five-year transformation plan, which was launched in 2020, will take two years longer than planned due to ‘inflationary pressures’.

That suggests the turnaround will not be complete until 2027-28.

The tough financial situation will threaten future bonuses to John Lewis staff, who are partners in the business.

Delays: John Lewis boss Dame Sharon White (pictured), said its five-year transformation plan to get back into the black will take longer than planned

White said they will ‘have to take the mindset of owners here’ adding: ‘If the roof of your house needs mending, everyone there would work together to get it fixed. We are doing all we can and we will see what position we are in come March.’

The 56-year-old businesswoman also hit out failures by authorities to tackle ‘rife’ looting of stores. The cost of shoplifting across the group is set to jump by £12million.

Apart from the value of items stolen, the company is also spending millions of pounds on security measures to combat what amounts to organised looting and attacks on staff.

White is calling for the police and government to act by, for example, introducing a law that makes attacks on shop workers a specific criminal offence in England and Wales – as is already the case in Scotland.

White met the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Mark Rowley, to discuss the crisis earlier this week.

White, former chief executive of media regulator Ofcom, said: ‘Every retailer is seeing shoplifting that is much more organised crime than the opportunistic shoplifting you may have seen in the past – or linked to cost–of–living pressures.’ 

She said: ‘It has almost become a job. It is shoplifting to order. We have some situations where we have stores that are relatively approximate to each other, and a gang goes from store to store.’

She said too few incidents are being followed up by the police, adding: ‘It is organised, to order, and an issue, rife across retail.

‘We have raised the issue because the safety of our staff is incredibly important.

‘We also feel this is an important issue from a societal point of view.

‘That is why we have been calling for change in legislation specifically to tackle abuse of shop workers. We are wanting to work more closely with the police.

‘To be frank, if we aren’t dealing with low level crime, that’s a huge issue more generally for society.’

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