UPDATE 1-Britain's John Lewis Partnership reports 55 mln stg first-half loss

17 Sep 2020 / 15:18 H.

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    LONDON, Sept 17 (Reuters) - The John Lewis Partnership reported a first-half loss of 55 million pounds ($71 million) and said the hit to trading from the pandemic had left it in the same position as it was after World War Two - unable to pay a bonus to staff.

    The owner of Britain's leading eponymous department store and the upmarket Waitrose supermarket said the closure of stores during the national lockdown and the purchase of low-profit products like toilet paper had hit overall trading.

    Operating profit at the department store fell by 46% in the first-half to July 25. As a result, the employee-owned group will not pay its staff, known as partners, a bonus.

    "The Group found itself in a similar position in 1948 when the bonus was halted following the Second World War," it said. "We came through then to be even stronger than before and we will do so again."

    The company said that its worst case scenario as set out in April for the full year of a sales fall of 5% in Waitrose and 35% in John Lewis remained its view. "We now believe the most likely outcome will be a small loss or a small profit for the year," it said.

    ($1 = 0.7717 pounds) (Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Sarah Young and James Davey)

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