Waitrose has announced the closure of four more stores ahead of what it expected to be another sobering trading update from parent John Lewis tomorrow.

The grocery chain has been a bright spot in an otherwise bleak picture at the staff-owned retailer, but even though sales have soared analysts expect these to have come at a price.

The split from its partnership with Ocado and establishing its own distribution network has incurred additional costs.

Like other supermarkets meeting the higher demand during the pandemic has meant overheads such as staff have risen.

Profits in the year to January were £213mln, though these were buoyed by property sale gains and a fall in the underlying position is predicted over the past six months.

Waitrose has already started to trim its 335 store portfolio and these latest closures make it nineteen outlets that have closed over the past 18 months.
Bérangère Michel, an executive director at John Lewis Partnership, said: “Closing any of our shops is always a last resort and is not a reflection on the dedication of our partners in Caldicot, Ipswich Corn Exchange, Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton.”

The group added it will try to find new roles for the 124 staff at risk.

Sharon White, John Lewis’s new chair, is likely to report much bigger problems at the department store business tomorrow with hefty losses predicted due to the closures during the pandemic.

In July, JLP said eight of its stores would not reopen after lockdown with the loss of around 1,300 jobs.

White is scheduled to unveil her new strategy for the business next month.