John Lewis to repay Government Covid loan ahead of schedule


John Lewis to repay £300m Government Covid loan ahead of schedule after Christmas sales held up better than expected

  • The John Lewis Partnership will repay the funds before due date of 15 March
  • Waitrose is yet to repay back the business rates relief though
  • JLP said profits for the full year are likely to be ahead of its previous guidance

John Lewis has said it will repay its £300million Government coronavirus loan ahead of schedule after Black Friday and Christmas sales held up better than anticipated.

The John Lewis Partnership, which is home to the eponymous department store chain and supermarket Waitrose, said that despite store closures throughout last year, it believes to have ‘sufficient’ liquidity going forward. 

And so it will hand back the support funding early instead of on 15 March, when it was due, even though its department stores are currently closed due to lockdown.

John Lewis said trading during Christmas and Black Friday 'held up better than anticipated'

John Lewis said trading during Christmas and Black Friday ‘held up better than anticipated’

The group also said that thanks to better-than-expected sales during the festive period, profits for the full year are likely to be ahead of the guidance provided in September, when it forecast ‘a small loss or small profit’. 

JLP will publish its full-year results on 11 March. 

‘Despite the head winds of the last year when John Lewis stores were closed for several months, and future trading volatility, the Partnership believes it has sufficient liquidity going forward,’ the company said. 

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It comes as the latest official retail sales figures showed only a slight 0.3 per cent uptick in December, much lower than the 1.2 per cent increase expected by economists. 

Waitrose has not yet offered to return millions of pounds in business rates relief

Waitrose has not yet offered to return millions of pounds in business rates relief

JLP secured the coronavirus support loan after the Government and the Bank of England set up the Covid Corporate Financing Facility at the start of the pandemic.

More than 200 large UK businesses have borrowed money through the scheme, and many of them have already repaid their loans.

The partnership is to repay the loan, but Waitrose remains one of a handful of UK supermarket chains yet to offer to return millions of pounds in business rates relief.

In December, Tesco said it would hand back £585million from its business rates holiday, starting a chain reaction among rivals which saw around £2billion repaid to the Government.

Waitrose received around £120million of business rates relief for the year, according to estimates by real estate adviser Altus Group.



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