Staff at John Lewis and Waitrose celebrate bonus payout - but bosses warn of tough times ahead

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Staff at the John Lewis Partnership in Peterborough are celebrating after being handed a six per cent bonus today - worth about three weeks’ pay.

But the payout is a long way short of last year’s 10 per cent bonus.

It reflects bosses’ worries about the future with the fall in the value of sterling, rising inflation and the impact of online shopping.

The annual bonus has been slipping for the last few years.

It was 11 per cent in 2015 and 15 per cent in 2014 which was itself a two per cent fall on the previous year.

The John Lewis Partnership employs about 600 people across its John Lewis store in the Queensgate shopping centre, in Peterborough, and its Waitrose store, in Mayor’s Walk, Peterborough.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “In January, we said partnership bonus was likely to be significantly lower this year.

“It is lower because the board has decided to retain more of our annual profits in order to strengthen our balance sheet.

“This allows us to maintain our level of investment in the face of what we expect to be an increasingly uncertain market this year.

He added: “We have also continued to put more money into pay.

“During the year, the average pay rates for our non-management partners rose five per cent.”

The bonus news came as the retailer announced that sales for the year to the end of January 2017 were up 3.2 per cent.

Profit before partnership bonus, tax and exceptional items was up 21.2 per cent to £370.4 million.

The company has also reported a healthy start to the new financial year.

For the first five weeks of the year, sales are up 0.5 per cent on last year.

But Sir Charlie warned: “In the year ahead, trading pressures will continue as a result of the wider changes taking place in retail.”

The two major factors are the impact of the fall in sterling on prices and the continued shift from shops to online.

He added: “These factors are significant for the outlook where we expect both inflationary cost pressures and competition to intensify in the market as a whole.”