An independent Scotland could mean steeper shopping bills warns John Lewis chairman

11th September 2014

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The price-tags in Scottish branches of John Lewis and Waitrose could end up far steeper than in the rest of the UK if the country votes Yes to independence in next week’s referendum.

Speaking to the BBC, John Lewis Partnership chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield asserted there would be economic consequences to a Yes vote and that it was “most probable” that the prices of its goods will rise.

He said: “It does cost more money to trade in parts of Scotland, and therefore those higher costs in the event of a Yes vote are more likely to be passed on.

“When we are talking about two separate countries it is most probable that retailers will start pricing differently.”

The BBC report said that in responding to the comments, the Scottish finance secretary John Swinney said: “Charlie Mayfield is entitled to his opinion.

“I think the argument is one that is firmly contested by other retailers who do not take the view that has been expressed this morning by Charlie Mayfield.”

In its latest financial results, the John Lewis Partnership announced a 12% rise in profits to almost £130m in the half-year to end of July.

Commenting on the progress, Sir Mayfield said: “Operating profits in John Lewis rose by 62% (£22m), offset by a decline in Waitrose operating profits of 9% (£15m). The strong profit performance in John Lewis reflects robust sales growth across all categories, especially in the higher margin ‘Home’ category, and good cost control across the business.

“In Waitrose, profits were lower as a result of a much higher level of investment in new branches and accelerating the growth of the business through investment in Waitrose.com and the myWaitrose programme, as well as the challenging market conditions. However, Waitrose sales performance continued to be well ahead of the market.”

 

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