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Tech sales prop up John Lewis trading

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Department store group John Lewis has today reported encouraging technology sales in the week to May 14th, with the Apple iPad 2 and general computer products selling particularly well.

Overall sales at the retailer’s 29 department stores and online operation edged up just 0.1 per cent year-on-year, but electricals & home technology (E&HT) trading increased by an impressive five per cent over that period.

Retail Operations Director Andrew Murphy said John Lewis “sold through” its stocks of the Apple iPad “in no time”, and revealed that sales of other computing ranges were up 15 per cent year-on-year.

New stylish ranges helped double audio sales compared to the same week last year, while Dyson products contributed significantly to total the department’s increase in trading.

Despite the positive comparisons with last year in E&HT, John Lewis is still finding trading tough in 2011 and has already warned that it faces tough sales comparisons against last year’s World Cup build-up in the weeks ahead.

Its fashion and homeware departments both reported a fall in sales last week, although the former has had an encouraging start to the year so far thanks to new ranges and unseasonably warm weather in the UK.

Trading at the majority of its stores during the last week was down annually, with Peterborough, Southampton, Reading and Cribbs Causeway reporting particularly bad comparisons with the same period in 2010.

Even its flagship store on London’s Oxford Street, as well as its outlets in high footfall shopping centres Bluewater and Brent Cross, reported annual sales declines - for the week and the year to date.

The retailer’s online channel Johnlewis.com continued to be the company’s best performing store, with sales up 18 per cent year-on-year.

Murphy said: “Emerging from a long period where true like-for-like comparisons have been virtually impossible to determine, we are confronted by an undoubtedly challenging retail market.

“However, our operational focus should be less on high-level data and economic prophecies than on the things we can directly influence and control, namely: the provision of a great assortment and delivery of exceptional customer service.

“If we focus on these and other things that we know represent great retailing, then we will automatically make our financial objectives more achievable and sustain our well-established outperformance of our competitors through another year.”

Published on Friday 20 May by Editorial Assistant

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