John Lewis Partnership warns on profit margin despite sales rise over Christmas

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John Lewis weekly

Sales at the parent company of John Lewis and Waitrose grew over Christmas, but it warned profits will take a hit as it tries to remain competitive.

The John Lewis Partnership said sales were up 2.5 per cent year-on-year to £1.96 billion in the six week period ending December 30, which included both Christmas and Black Friday trading periods.

On their own, Waitrose’s sales rose 1.4 per cent year-on-year to £928 million as well as 1.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis, while the John Lewis department store chain saw sales grow 3.6 per cent year-on-year to £1.03 billion and 3.1 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

Of its department store chain, John Lewis Partnership said it outperformed the market by 4.5 per cent and Black Friday was John Lewis’ most successful sales day in its history and contributed to the biggest ever week of sales, up 7.2 per cent year-on-year.

However, partnership chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield has warned that full-year profits will be dented as a result of soaring costs linked to the devalued sterling and its commitment to being “never knowingly undersold” – the chain’s price matching promise.

“The pressure on margin seen in the first half of the year has intensified because of our choice to maintain competitive prices, despite higher costs mainly due to the weaker exchange rate,” he said.

“This will negatively affect full-year financial results as indicated previously.”

Mayfield added that he expected trading to be “volatile” this year due to the economic environment and structural changes taking place in the retail industry.

The John Lewis Partnership will report its full year results ending January 27 on March 8.

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