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Business briefing: John Lewis fires its boss and may axe staff’s bonus

Gone: Paula Nickolds has left John Lewis following a festive sales slump PICTURE: PA

JOHN LEWIS has sacked its managing director and could also withhold its staff bonus for the first time in 67 years.

Paula Nickolds leaves after 26 years, and just weeks before she was due to start her newly created role as executive director of brand, overseeing both the department store chain and Waitrose.

Her exit came as John Lewis revealed a two per cent slump in like-for-like sales in the seven weeks to January 5, while John Lewis Partnership chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield admitted the employee-owned group could deny its 81,000 staff their traditional annual tip.

Sir Charlie, who himself is standing down next month, said: ‘After some reflection on the responsibilities of her proposed new role, we have decided together that the implementation of the future partnership structure in February is the right time for her to move on.’ He added: ‘The partnership board will meet in February to decide whether it is prudent to pay a partnership bonus.’

Gross sales for the partnership as a whole were down 1.8 per cent.

Staff bonuses last year were just three per cent of annual pay — the lowest level since 1953.

■ MARKS & SPENCER’S food division had a ‘standout’ Christmas performance with revenue up 1.5 per cent to £1.7billion in the three months to the end of December. But sales in clothing and homeware dropped 2.7 per cent to £1.1billion. Like-for-like, UK revenue grew 0.2 per cent. Meanwhile, Tesco saw a 0.1 per cent rise in UK sales over Christmas, just managing to secure its fifth festive season of growth in a row.

Water view! £2m clifftop lodge for sale

On the edge: Owners say living in the Devon home is like being on holiday PICTURE: BNPS

A CLIFFTOP home complete with its own private beach has emerged for sale in south Devon for £2million.

Bar Lodge — one of the most secluded homes in Britain — stands on its own rocky outcrop and has four bedrooms plus stunning views across Salcombe Estuary.

‘Although this has been the main home for the current owners for over 20 years, they describe it as their holiday home because they always feel like they’re on holiday,’ said Sarah-Jane Bingham-Chick, an agent with Savills. She said the house needs updating but ‘you can’t put a price on the views — they’re worth their weight in gold’.

Business bites

■ ALL 79 of Mothercare’s remaining stores will be shut by the end of the week — putting 2,500 people out of work. But its products, including baby clothes and car seats, will continue to be sold at branches of Boots.

■ THE boss of International Airlines Group announced he will retire after 15 years. Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways’ parent company, will step down on March 26 to be replaced by Iberia CEO Luis Gallego.

■ A STEEL maker is to cut 355 jobs. Liberty Steel said 250 posts would go at Stocksbridge, South Yorkshire, 70 at Newport, south Wales, plus a handful at its other sites due to ‘challenging’ market conditions.

■ DUNELM has defied the high street downturn to post surging Christmas sales. The homeware brand’s like-for-like sales for the three months to December 28 grew five per cent to £313million, buoyed by online growth.

■ HUNDREDS of investors in London Capital & Finance will lose out after its collapse. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme will not cover 283 LCF bondholders who got in before it was authorised in June 2016.