Bonuses for 84,000 staff at John Lewis and Waitrose ought to have cut for the fifth time in a row.
Employees will get a 5% bonus, down from 6% last year and the lowest since the 4% paid out in 1954.
Annual group profit, before the partnership bonus, taxation and exceptional items, fell 21.9% to PS289. 2m.
John Lewis Partnership chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said 2017 had been a “challenging year”, as expected, with “subdued” consumer demand.
He said weakness in sterling had led to higher costs, exert pressure on the business’s gain margin.
The partnership said it had been hit by exceptional costs of PS111. 3m, including PS72. 8m on restructuring and redundancy expenditures, principally in relation to brand, distribution and retail operations.
“This was why we chose to reduce the proportion of gains paid as partnership bonus last year so as to absorb these impacts while continuing to invest in the future and in strengthening our balance sheet, ” Sir Charlie said.
He said the firm remained committed to increasing pay rates for non-management personnel, and that the average hourly rate of pay for a non-management employees was PS8. 91.
‘Volatile’ year ahead
Like-for-like sales – which strip out potential impacts of storage openings – at the John Lewis department stores were up 0.4%. At Waitrose, sales returned to growth, with like-for-like sales rising 0.9%.
Gross sales for the full-year period were up 2% at PS11. 6bn.
“We expect trading to be volatile in 2018 -1 9, with continuing economic uncertainty and no let up in competitive severity. We therefore anticipate farther pressure on profits, ” the company said.
Redundancy pays expenditure it PS72. 8m in 2017. The partnership said 1,440 staff member had left the business through redundancy in the past year.
Analysis: Emma Simpson, BBC business correspondent
John Lewis is owned by its staff and they cherish their annual bonus. It’s down for the fifth time in a row but given the challenging circumstances on the High Street right now, some partners may be seeming grateful for any extra payout.
John Lewis continues to be one of the stronger players. Today’s figures prove even this household name isn’t immune from the forces buffeting service industries.
It advised back in January 2017 that it would reduce the bonus in order to prepare for tougher trading conditions ahead. That seems to have been a prudent move. But the unrelenting pressure on gains presents no sign of easing this year, either.
The company said that its John Lewis storages had increased market share in fashion, homewares, electrical goods and home engineering, with sales in the latter category up by 2.6%.
Fashion sales clambered 3.2%, boosted by a strong performance in womenswear, up 5.0%. Marketings of its own-brand womenswear rose 14.9%.
But homeware sales were down 0.8%, with soft requirement in categories such as fitted furniture, fitted flooring and upholstery.
“These results show that conditions of the High Street are very tricky at the moment, ” said Richard Lim, chief executive of analysts Retail Economics.
“Consumer spending generally is a lot softer, while inflation is still near a five-year high.”
He said research by his firm showed that consumers were also worried about Brexit and their own low levels of personal savings. “People’s personal finances are under pressure.”
Mr Lim said that in the year ahead John Lewis “wouldve been” looking very closely at its costs and at ways of potentially bringing these down.
“That could mean looking at employing their existing spaces more efficiently and innovatively.”
How does the John Lewis Partnership study?
John Lewis has been a partnership since it started 150 years ago
Waitrose joined in 1937
Consists of an elected assembly, members of the board and a chairperson
First bonus paid in 1919
First cash bonus in 1970
No bonus paid in First World War, Second World War and early 1950 s
Company says its business arrangement allows it to have a longer term outlook as it doesn’t have to answer to City shareholders