John Lewis pays staff 17 percent bonus as profits rise

British retailer, the John Lewis Partnership , said on Thursday it would pay its staff a bonus of 17 percent of salary after it outperformed rivals with a 16 percent rise in annual profit.

"We expect our sales growth to continue this year, albeit less strongly than in 2012-13, and we are planning a significant step up in total investment, with a particular focus on our supply chain, technology and systems," Chairman Charlie Mayfield said.

The group is planning capital expenditure in excess of 500 million pounds ($752.73 million) in the 2013-14 year.

With Britain teetering on the brink of a third recession in four years many retailers have been finding the going tough as consumers fret over job security, a squeeze on incomes and government cuts.

But the 149-year-old John Lewis, whose worker co-ownership business model has been lauded by Prime Minister David Cameron, has consistently bucked the gloom.

Its generally more affluent customers have been less impacted by the economic downturn, while improvements to products, service and promotions, along with new modern stores, have chimed with shoppers.

The group which runs Britain's biggest department store chain as well as upmarket grocer Waitrose, said profit before tax and a staff bonus pool of 210.8 million pounds rose to 409.6 million pounds in the year to January 26, up from 354 million pounds last year.

Its 84,700 staff, known as partners, will be paid a bonus of 17 percent of salary, equal to nine weeks pay, up from 14 percent last year when the bonus was cut for the first time since 2009.

The group, the only major British retailer to publish weekly sales figures, said total sales increased 9.3 percent to 9.54 billion pounds.

The increase reflected booming electricals and online sales throughout the whole year as well as record Christmas sales.

After five weeks of its new financial year group sales were 10.5 percent higher, with like-for-like sales up 13.7 percent at the department stores and up 6.4 percent at Waitrose.

said although the retail market remains subdued, the firm was seeing more stability in customer demand and expected to grow market share this year. ($1 = 0.6643 British pounds)

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton)