John Lewis loses best employer crown as Scots retailer makes list

John Lewis has lost its leading employer title after Wren Kitchens beat off competition to be named the best retailer to work for in the UK, according to new research.

John Lewis slumped to eighth place in the employee rankings after further cuts to staff bonuses. Picture: Neil Hanna
John Lewis slumped to eighth place in the employee rankings after further cuts to staff bonuses. Picture: Neil Hanna

The kitchen manufacturer topped the table – based on reviews submitted by retail employees – as John Lewis slipped from top spot in 2018 to eighth place this year.

It follows a year which saw annual pre-tax profits at the department store chain plummet by 45.4 per cent to £160 million.

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The high street stalwart, whose partnership includes supermarket Waitrose, also cut staff bonuses for the sixth consecutive year.

The retail giant announced earlier this month that it would reduce the renowned bonus to 3 per cent of annual salary, a drop from 5 per cent last year. This represents the lowest level since no bonuses were paid in 1953.

There was positive news for Livingston-headquartered footwear retailer Schuh, which was ranked 15th on the list compiled by job search engine Indeed.

Overall winner Wren Kitchens, which is based in Humberside and employs more than 4,000 staff, scored consistently highly for “valuing its employees”.

The kitchen designer, manufacturer and retailer led a host of homegrown companies, as UK-based firms emerged as the six most popular retail brands among employees.

Handmade cosmetics chain Lush retained its runner-up spot from last year, followed by bed retailer Dreams, shoe chain Clarks and high street giant Marks and Spencer.

Luxury department store Harrods came in sixth place.

The UK retail sector, and in particular the high street, has continued to endure high-profile struggles over the past year, but Indeed said its latest report showed that “working in the industry clearly still holds real attraction for many people”.

The list ranks the best places to work both overall and across individual categories as determined by reviews left by visitors to the job website on individual company pages.

Its proprietary algorithm takes into account a variety of factors, including average rating, number of reviews and the history of job openings.

Bill Richards, UK managing director at Indeed, said: “These are testing times for Britain’s high street retailers.

“Not only are they having to compete with their online rivals for customers, the tight labour market means they’re having to fight hard to find and retain good people.

“The brands in our ranking have successfully created a positive and desirable work environment, earning plaudits from their staff and providing an example we can all learn from.”

He stressed that a strong online presence can help firm’s attract the best talent. He added: “In our most recent research 70 per cent of jobseekers said that insight into a company’s employer reputation is important while considering a job opportunity.

“It’s clear: a company’s online reputation has never been more important when it comes to attracting talent.”

Mark Pullan, MD at Wren Kitchens, said: “We are delighted to have received this recognition, which is a reflection of the great team we have.

“The award is a tribute to the culture they have created.”