The John Lewis Partnership has announced that it will be awarding its staff a one-off payment and free food over the winter in response to the cost-of living crisis.

The news came as the owner of the John Lewis department store and Waitrose supermarket reported that had plunged to a £99 million loss in its first half.

The partnership said it is making an active choice to spend £45 million to help staff.  This will include offering free food over 14 weeks during the winter. The payment will be £500 for full-time partners but less for part-time.

John Lewis Partnership said it made a first half loss of £99 million, or £92 million before exceptional costs, largely due to the combination of cost inflation not fully passed on to customers and the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. The loss was also attributed to the unwinding of Covid shopping patterns and investments to support partners, customers and suppliers.

Waitrose sales came in at £3.6 billion in the period which marked a 5% like-for-like decline on a year ago. However, sales were up 7% on a like-for-like basis on three years prior.

Meanwhile. John Lewis achieved sales of £2.1 billion to mark a 3% like-for-like uplift on last year and a 13% increase on three years ago.

Looking ahead, the partnership said the outlook is uncertain and that a successful Christmas will be key given the results of the first half.