• Waitrose profits slip following spike in John Lewis Partnership pension costs
  • Companies House filing reveals the grocers annual sales also dipped to £5.9bn
  • Documents cover Waitrose Limited, which does not include grocer’s stores in the Channel Islands

 

Waitrose has suffered a 17% slip in full-year pre-tax profits, driven by rising pension costs across the John Lewis Partnership.

According to documents filed at Companies House for Waitrose Limited, which does not include its four stores in the Channel Islands, the upmarket grocer’s pre-tax profits fell to £66.6m for the year ending January 30, compared to £80.6m the previous year.

As a result of the fall in profits, the bonus shared between the 58,970 Waitrose staff dropped to £80m from £87m the previous year.

Waitrose said the dip in profits reflected the retailer’s share of the partnership’s pension operating costs, which were £54.2m higher than in the previous financial year.

The increase in pension costs was driven by a number of market factors, including low interest rates.

Waitrose sales also inched down from £6bn to £5.9bn during the year, while like-for-likes dropped 1.3%, according to the Companies House filing.

The grocer, which is pressing ahead with its ’modern Waitrose’ strategy under new managing director Rob Collins, launched 12 new stores during the year, taking its total in the UK to 346, and also opened a new online fulfilment centre in Coulsdon.

It also unveiled what it calls its “world first” Pick Your Own Offers scheme, which allows myWaitrose loyalty card holders to select 10 products on which to save 20% every time they shop.

Waitrose is expanding its hospitality proposition as part of Collins’ vision for the retailer. The grocer aims to attract more shoppers into its supermarkets by rolling out wine and sushi bars across a number of stores.

It also launched its premium ‘Waitrose 1’ range in April, bringing together its existing luxury ranges under one label and developing hundreds of new products.

Back in March, Waitrose posted a 3.9% uplift in adjusted operating profit to £232.6m, excluding property profits.

On a statutory basis, the grocer’s profits dipped 2%.