Sep 17, 2020

John Lewis head should hope to be as lucky as Next next time

Both Simon Wolfson, head of Next, and Sharon White, new head of John Lewis, talk of being fortunate. Next made a pre-tax profit of £9m in the six months to July on a 33 per cent drop in sales and lifted forecasts for the full year to £300m. John Lewis made a half-year pre-tax loss of £55m on a 10 per cent drop in overall sales, despite a bumper contribution from grocer Waitrose. Tellingly, John Lewis has written down the value of its store estate in recognition that its department stores drive far fewer customers to spend online than was thought. John Lewis customers collect just 16 per cent from its stores. While John Lewis's debt is rising, Next expects to trim another £462m off its net debt, bringing it down to £650m by the year end.

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