John Lewis sales rise

John Lewis Partnership reports strong Christmas trading with total sales up 4.9% at £1,913.0m.

A statement said John Lewis and Waitrose traded well in the six weeks to 31 December with both brands gaining market share.

Waitrose gross sales (excluding fuel) were £914.9m, up 4.8%1 versus last time and up 2.8% on a like-for-like basis while John Lewis gross sales were £998.1m, up 4.9% on last time and up 2.7%1 on a like-for-like basis

Other highlihgts:

- Profit before Partnership bonus, tax and exceptionals for the year ending 28 January is expected to be up on last year with lower pension accounting charges offsetting trading pressures on profit

- Partnership strategy will be accelerated to prepare the business for the challenges ahead

- The Partnership board will decide on the level of bonus in March, but, given the challenging market outlook and the importance of investment for the future, the board expects that bonus is likely to be significantly lower than last year

Chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said: "We traded strongly over Christmas with sales up nearly 5% and both Waitrose and John Lewis grew market share. Sales were particularly strong in the areas that have been the focus for product innovation this year, such as our Waitrose 1 premium range and John Lewis own-brand fashion. Our multi-channel capability has again proved its worth with online accounting for 40% of total sales in John Lewis.

"Operational performance was good across both brands. That was thanks to the hard work and commitment of Partners across shops, distribution and head offices. As a result we sustained a strong sales performance right through to Christmas and enabled a great start post Christmas including Clearance.

"However, although we expect to report profits up on last year, trading profit is under pressure. This reflects the greater changes taking place across the retail sector. We expect those to quicken, especially in the next 12 months as the effects of weaker Sterling feed through. We will now accelerate aspects of our strategy. This will involve a period of significant change, investment and innovation to ensure the Partnership's success."