United Kingdom

John Lewis to repay Government Covid loan ahead of schedule

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'

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. 

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

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.

Football news:

Bayern signed a contract with Musiala for 5 years, the salary is 5 million euros. Today, the player turned 18 years old
FNL is a place of torment. The clubs themselves pay the league more than it pays them - to rake this out to the new president from the RFU
Manchester United will pay Cavani 2 million euros if they do not extend his contract. The decision will be made when the player heals the injury
Klopp on Liverpool in the top 4: It's a big challenge. We are not so far away, but there is a certain gap
Ronald Koeman: All the top clubs have pressure. Sometimes it seems that only Barcelona plays important matches
Ramos is closer to a new contract with Real Madrid than to leaving the club. The player regularly communicates with Perez
Julen Lopetegui: Messi is the best player in history