John Lewis returns to first half profit but warns of uncertainty

John Lewis Partnership has reported a return to first half profit after a COVID-pandemic hit loss last year.
"As we look ahead, there is significant uncertainty." : Sharon White.
// John Lewis Partnership reports a significant narrowing in losses after tax in the first half of the year
// Online sales continued to grow across both John Lewis & Waitrose for the period

John Lewis Partnership has reported a return to first half profit after a Covid-pandemic hit loss last year.

In the half year period to July 31, the business reported reported a loss before tax of £29 million, which the retailer called a “significant improvement” on the £645 million loss before tax it posted for the same period last year.

Underpinning these narrowing losses was a 6 per cent sales rise across the partnership as Waitrose reported a 2 per cent increase in sales for the period, while John Lewis reported a 12 per cent sales surge compared to the same period last year, and a 1 per cent increase on pre-pandemic sales.

READ MORE: John Lewis partnership to recruit 7,000 temporary staff for Christmas

Ecommerce sales continued to grow across both John Lewis and Waitrose for the period.

At the department store giant, online sales accounted for 75 per cent of all transactions during the period, up 35 per cent on pre-pandemic levels.

Waitrose reported 17 per cent online sales for the period, an 11 per cent increase year-on-year, although 3 per cent lower than the 20 per cent peak it reached in March.

To meet the increased demand for online grocery delivery, Waitrose increased capacity in stores and at a new West London distribution centre during the period.

It’s grocery arm also expanded its partnership with Deliveroo to 150 of its stores in a bid to target younger shoppers.

John Lewis chair, Sharon White, said: “We have begun the financial year with profits recovering, ahead of both last year and expectations set at our year-end results.

“Traditionally, our profits are skewed to the second half of the year because of the importance of Christmas, especially in John Lewis.“

“As we look ahead, there is significant uncertainty. Like the whole of retail, we are managing global supply chain challenges and labour shortages. We are seeing inflationary pressures, which we expect to persist.

“We are taking a raft of measures to mitigate these risks and deliver Christmas for our customers.”

John Lewis has already revealed plans to recruit more than 7,000 temporary workers across the country this Christmas.

The new employees will be spread across the retailer’s supermarkets, department stores and fulfilment centres, including delivery drivers for its online grocery division.

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  1. Wise to talk of uncertainty particularly when the core issues remain unresolved.
    The recognition that they need to engage so many “Christmas temps” highlights
    the earlier forced loss of key floor sales partners. In addition Head Office support
    teams are still too high in number for the now reduced size of the combined businesses.
    They need to get the balance right.


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