Mar. 7 - Employee-owner retailer John Lewis will hand out bonuses worth 17% of salary to staff after the group shrugged off tough high street conditions in the UK to report a 15.8% surge in annual profits. But it was helped by good online sales so how does one of the UK's best known names see the future of the high street? Hayley Platt reports.
It's bonus day at the UK's employee-owned retailer John Lewis. 17 percent is 3 percent higher than last year and equivalent to almost 9 weeks' pay. SOUNDBITE: Derya Topcu, John Lewis staff, saying (English): "We are organising our Turkish wedding in Turkey, yeah my bonus is going to my wedding." Group profits rose almost 16 percent to 410 million pounds - outperforming many rivals. But much of that success was down to rapid growth online says Chairman Charlie Mayfield. SOUNDBITE: Charlie Mayfield, Chairman, John Lewis, saying (English): "What we already see in John Lewis is that about two thirds of all the transactions that take place in the whole of John Lewis have some online component. That might be customers doing browsing online and then going into the shop and making the purchase or it might be actually people just shopping online along the way so it's going to be all about the blend between the two." John Lewis and its supermarket chain Waitrose upped online business by well over 40 % Kantar Retail's Bryan Roberts says the group is leading the field in online technology. SOUNDBITE: Bryan Roberts, Research Director "In terms of combining the power of the internet with the power of actually having a very strong network of stores and what's been amazing I think has been the success of Waitrose's participation in the John Lewis online story. The fact that you can order general merchandise through John Lewis.com and get that delivered to a Waitrose supermarket. So there's that real genuine multichannel strategy which is paying off at the moment." A failure to embrace online selling has recently led to the demise of HMV, Comet and Jessops - among others. Many are looking to John Lewis to see how this darling of the UK high street balances the two sides of the business. SOUNDBITE: Charlie Mayfield, Chairman, John Lewis, saying (English): "Of course there will be winners and losers in that but what we're very committed to in both Waitrose and John Lewis is playing a key role on the high street in terms of having our shops there but also about having brands which just create vibrancy and attract people in to key centres." But many are wondering how long it will be before some high streets are not worth being in. John Lewis may still be a destination shop. But even it's looking abroad for growth as the UK economy continues to struggle.