Retail giant Waitrose has announced that it will be closing fives stores across the UK, after the John Lewis Partnership decided that the sites were no longer commercially viable.
The company has announced that deals have been signed to take over shops across the Midlands, South Wales and the South West, all of which are to be complete by June this year.
Over 400 staff members are employed over these five stores, and Waitrose has announced that the company will be offering redundancies.
As Waitrose anticipated, their profit before tax was substantially lower than last year at £160m, down £132.8m (45.4%). This was principally due to the significant operating profit decline in John Lewis & Partners.
Sir Charlie Mayfield, Partner and Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, commented: “In line with expectations set out in June, our Partnership profits before exceptionals have finished substantially lower in what has been a challenging year, particularly in non-food. Operating profit recovered strongly in Waitrose & Partners, up 18% (to £203.2m), mainly due to improved gross margins. However, it was down sharply, by 56% (to £114.7m), in John Lewis & Partners because of weaker Home sales, gross margin pressure, higher IT costs, the property impact of new shops and lower profit on asset sales. Despite this, we managed cash tightly and reduced total net debts by £401.3m.
“This is part of our strategy to build up our cash reserves as a defence against uncertainty in the economy and to enable us to maintain annual investment at £400m-£500m per year.”