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John Lewis Partnership chairman Sharon White has insisted a sale of Waitrose is not on the table as the group revealed a wide-scale strategic review.

Three Waitrose stores - in Helensburgh, Four Oaks and Waterlooville - will close later this year, the retail chain said as it announced its annual financial results.

JLP will also look at “right-sizing” its store estate through “a combination of new formats and new locations; repurposing and space reductions of existing stores; and closures, where necessary”. The group is also exploring opportunities for more stores to operate John Lewis and Waitrose in the same footprint.

“What is not up for debate, however, is our employee ownership model or the sale of either of our two brands,” White, who took over as JLP chairman in February, added.

The strategic review will be completed by the autumn, with a further update set to be announced at the group’s half-year results. White said the changes could take three to five years to yield results. “We are stepping into a vital new phase for the partnership and I have no doubt we will come through it stronger.”

White refused to be drawn on how much of the Future Partnership restructure conducted by former chairman Charlie Mayfield, , which saw both the John Lewis and Waitrose bosses leave the business along with a third of senior managers, would be altered in the review.

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Morning update

This week’s edition of The Grocer has stories on the supermarket ambitions of Greggs, upmarket ready meals supplier Charlie Bigham’s bouncing back into the black and the £500k fundraising driven of non-alcoholic craft brewer Big Drop.

All those stories and more will be on later this morning.

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 has slumped a further 2% to 6,569.1pts.

Early victims of the latest market falls include McColl’s (MCLS), down a further 7.6% to just 26.8p, SSP Group (SSPG), down a further 4.1% to 445.5p as the slump in airline travel continues to hammer its share price and, similarly, WH Smith (SMWH), down 3.1% to 1,792p.

Amongst the few shares holding their own this morning are Devro, up 0.8% to 169.8p and Tesco (TSCO), up 0.3% to 241.6p.

Yesterday in the City

The market fell again yesterday undoing the gains of the previous couple of days as the FTSE 100 ended Thursday 1.6% lower at 6,705.4pts.

A number of retailers were amongst the major fallers, including McColl’s (MCLS), down 12.1% to 29p, SSP Group (SSPG), down 4.4% to 464.5p, WH Smith (SMWH), down 4.2% to 1,850p, Greggs (GRG), down 2.7% to 2,138p, Marks & Spencer (MKS), down 2.7% to 157.6p, Ocado (OCDO), down 2.6% to 1,123p and Hotel Chocolat (HOTC), down 2.6% to 414p.

Other fallers included Greencore (GNC), down 6.6% to 204p, Finsbury Food Group (FIF), down 5.6% to 84p, Domino’s Pizza Group, down 4.9% to 290p, C&C Group (CCR), down 3.6% to 323.5p and Bakkavor, down 3.4% to 103p.

The day’s few risers included Devro, which announced its annual results earlier this week, rising 5.9% to 168.4p, Carr’s Group (CARR), up 5.7% to 148p, Total Produce, up 4.6% to 115p after its annual results, AG Barr (BAG), up 2.8% to 555p, Naked Wines (WINE), up 1.8% to 223p and British American Tobacco (BATS), up 1.3% to 3,244.5p.