Britain may see double-digit inflation, the chair of the John Lewis Partnership has warned.
Dame Sharon White’s comments came after the UK registered inflation of five-and-a-half per cent, with the Bank of England predicting it could exceed seven percent, as to raised interest rates on Thursday.
Speaking on BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme, she said: “Everything you can see in terms of energy prices from the impact of the Ukraine war suggests that we might well end up with double-digit inflation.
“My big worry is that it ends out being more enduring than anyone expects”, and that it could lead to a “macroeconomic washout.”
The economist and former official at the treasury also stood by the company’s decision to pay all staff a three per cent bonus, despite not repaying £58m in tax relief from the pandemic.
“We kept that relief, that exemption from tax, we used that exactly for the purposes intended, which was to secure jobs and to avoid further restructuring,” she told the broadcaster.
“So I make no apologies for paying the bonus to partners who have worked their socks off over the last year.”
This comes after the firm was unable to pay partners a bonus for the first time in its 67-year history in 2020 during the peak of the pandemic. White said “I feel very comfortable morally” about giving bonuses post-pandemic. The company’s profits recently rebounded by 40 per cent.