Retailer John Lewis cut its losses in the first half but has warned that its recovery plans will be pushed back by two years due to "inflationary pressures".

The high street giant, which also owns the upmarket Waitrose chain of grocery stores, reported a pre-tax loss of £57.3 million for the 26 weeks to July 29. That was a 14% improvement on last year.

However, rising costs and larger investment requirements mean its recovery plan will not be completed until 2028. Launched in 2020, the "Partnership Plan" originally envisaged returning to a £400m profit by 2025/26 financial year.

The department store chain has faced tough competition in recent years which has resulted in store closures, while Waitrose has underperformed the likes of Tesco and Aldi as shoppers hunt for cheaper food amid the cost-of-living crisis.

The group - which is owned by its employees who are referred to as partners - said in March of this year that it will not pay a staff bonus for only the second time since the scheme began in 1953. Today's statement suggested that the hiatus in bonus payments will continue.

"Our priorities for investment remain to modernise the business, improve customer service and do more for partner pay, where we can," the group said. "These demands are significant and take precedence over the partnership bonus."

Textiles stalwart with plants in Highlands and Borders creates jobs


Knitwear producer Johnstons of Elgin is set to ramp up production after enjoying a surge in sales and creating jobs amid challenging conditions for manufacturers in recent months. The family-owned company increased turnover to £83.5 million last year from £66.4m in the preceding period, accounts filed at Companies House show.

Head chef for new city centre restaurant unveiled


A new hotel restaurant in Glasgow city centre has unveiled its first head chef as it prepares to launch next month. Eric Avenier has been hired from businessman Stefan King’s Scotsman Group, where the 51-year-old chef worked across restaurants including The Scotsman Hotel in Edinburgh and The Corinthian Club and The Bothy brasserie in Glasgow, to launch Hazel, part of the new AC by Marriott Glasgow hotel.