However, John Lewis said its department stores fared better with operating profit before exceptional items up 4.5 percent, helped by stronger fashion and electrical sales.
'The number of partners will come down as a outcome of that'.
Profit before partnership bonus and tax also dived 67.2 per cent.
United Kingdom retail group John Lewis Partnership, which operates John Lewis department stores and the Waitrose supermarket chain, saw profit before exceptionals fall 21.9% to £289.2 million in 2017, according to its full-year results, released today.
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The employee-owned retailer said its 85,500 staff, known as partners, would get a bonus of 5 percent, down from 6 percent past year and at its lowest level since 1954.
It marks the fifth straight year of bonus cuts, having gone down from six per cent last year and as much as 17 per cent in 2013.
Sir Charlie added: "We said in January 2017 that we were preparing for tougher trading conditions, with weakness in sterling feeding through into cost prices".
"This was why we chose to reduce the proportion of profits paid as Partnership Bonus a year ago so as to absorb these impacts while continuing to invest in the future and in strengthening our balance sheet".
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"We have seen margins coming under pressure, and in fact, if anything, they came under more pressure probably than we had anticipated", he told reporters at a press conference.
He added: "We expect trading to be volatile in 2018/19, with continuing economic uncertainty and no let up in competitive intensity". Gross sales were up 2.2% to £4.84bn, with like-for-like sales growth of 0.4%.
He admitted that changes made across the group had affected "many" of its employees, with 1,400 redundancies in the past year.
Overall partnership results were hit by £73m in restructuring and redundancy costs plus a £39m write-down in the value of Waitrose branches. But home sales fell by 0.8%, with lower demand for upholstery and fitted flooring and furniture. But operating profit before exceptional items at the supermarket sank 32% to £172m, held back largely by lower margins as it tried not to pass on all cost price inflation to customers and invested in improving stores. However, their hard work throughout the year was key to delivering gross sales of GBP11.60 billion, up 2.0%, with like-for-like increases in both Waitrose and John Lewis.
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