John Lewis staff get 15% annual bonus

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Media captionJohn Lewis staff celebrate their 15% bonus, as chairman Charlie Mayfield talks about the challenges retailers face

The 91,000 staff of the John Lewis Partnership will receive an annual bonus worth 15% of their salaries.

The bonus is the equivalent to almost 8 weeks' pay, but the bonus rate is lower than last year's 17%.

The group, which encompasses both the John Lewis and Waitrose stores, saw its annual pre-tax profits fall by 4%, to £329.1m.

It also has to put more money aside to pay off its enlarged pension scheme deficit of just over £1bn.

The partnership's chairman, Charlie Mayfield, said 2013 had been a good year, and that this year had started well with sales up 5% in the first five weeks of 2014.

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Image caption Group sales passed £10bn last year

"There are more encouraging signs for the economy as a whole and, although this has not yet come through as a significant increase in consumer spending, I am cautiously optimistic that we will see improvements this year," he said.

"I am confident that however quickly the UK economy emerges from this prolonged period of slow growth, the partnership is well positioned to continue to strengthen."

The group's sales passed the £10bn mark last year, with £6bn of those at Waitrose and £4bn coming from John Lewis.

Overall it took on an another 6,300 staff and opened 13 new Waitrose outlets.

Another 38 new Waitrose outlets will be opened this coming year, including 23 smaller ones.

The Partnership pointed out that its profits for 2013 would have risen, not fallen, if it had not had to pay an extra £47m because some staff had not been paid enough holiday pay.

In August, the company revealed that for seven years, it had been inadvertently underpaying staff who worked on Sundays and bank holidays.

As a result, more than half its staff received less than £120 in extra payments, but some others were paid more than £1,000 each.

John Lewis explained that the mistake had been an administrative one, because its pay calculations had not complied with employment legislation.

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