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Five reasons why John Lewis and Waitrose are having a tough year

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It is tough times at the checkout of John Lewis and its sister chain, Waitrose, as the staff-owned retail group is expected to report its second ever full-year loss later this month.The retailer is parting ways with the head of its department store chain and the celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, who cooked up orange-filled Christmas puddings and other eccentric treats for Waitrose.

Things have got so sticky even the staff golf course is for the chop.So what has gone wrong for middle England’s favourite retail group?

Have its fans switched to Aldi or been tempted away by a resurgent Marks & Spencer?John Lewis Partnership is expected to report an annual pre-tax loss before one-offs of about £50m, compared with a profit of £181m last year, largely owing to the difficulties at its supermarkets.One-offs such as write-downs on the value of some of its supermarkets and head office restructuring, are expected to add £100m to losses, according to the independent retail analyst Nick Bubb.He predicts sales for the group will fall slightly to £10.6bn from £10.8bn a year ago, hit by a slide at Waitrose, which has been losing market share since September 2021.The partnership has talked about efforts to keep costs down, laying off thousands of staff at head office in recent years, even turning down lights and heating to save money.

It is understood that investments in stores has been put on hold in recent months.However, the group still carries heavier costs than rivals, not least from its array of staff benefits such as hotels, sailing club yachts, and the soon to be sold golf course in Maidenhead, Berkshire.The partnership had £1.4bn of debt at its last financial year end, including leases and pension obligations, against turnover of

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