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John Lewis, M&S and Debenhams reveal dismal trading updates, with one looking to axe staff bonus

PUBLISHED: 08:45 10 January 2019 | UPDATED: 09:12 10 January 2019

John Lewis may axe its staff annual bonus Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

John Lewis may axe its staff annual bonus Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Three of the biggest names on the high street have revealed shaky sales over the Christmas trading period.

Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and Debenhams have all kept a stiff upper lip despite the slump – maintaining that they remain encouraged by digital sales.

Marks & Spencer has insisted it is seeing “encouraging early signs” despite further falls in clothing and food sales over the Christmas quarter.

MORE: House of Fraser closing date revealed

The retailer said like-for-like clothing and home sales dropped 2.4% over the 13 weeks to December 29 while comparable food sales fell 2.1%.

Debenhams unveiled a similar decline, but said it was still on track to deliver profit expectations.

The company saw like-for-like sales dip by 3.4% in the six weeks to January 5, weighed down by the UK where sales were 3.6% lower due to weaker footfall.

But the group defied predictions from the City that it would issue a profit warning over the period.

Digital sales rose 6% in the period, despite a slower start to the peak shopping season.

However, staff at John Lewis have been dealt a blow as the partnership warned its annual staff bonus is under threat for the first time in living memory.

Around 85,000 staff are usually awarded the payout in March, but the retailer said on Thursday that it expects profits to be “substantially lower” this year amid slower sales growth.

Chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said: “The board will need to consider carefully in March, following the usual process, whether payment of a bonus is prudent in the light of business and economic prospects at that time.”

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