John Lewis buoyed by Black Friday sales

Gross sales at the John Lewis Partnership for the six weeks to 30 Dec were up 2.5% on last time at £1,962m.

Gross sales at Waitrose (excluding fuel) were up 1.4% at £928m and up 1.5% on a like-for-like basis.

Unlike the previous year's trading update, these numbers exclude New Year's Eve. If included like-for-like sales would be up an estimated 2.2%.

Gross sales at John Lewis were up 3.6% at £1,034m and up 3.1% on a like-for-like basis and significantly outperformed the market by 4.5%.

Black Friday was John Lewis's most successful sales day in its history and contributed to the biggest ever week of sales, up 7.2% year-on-year.

Chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said: 'We traded well during the Christmas period, with gross sales in the six weeks to 30 December £1,962m, up 2.5% on last year, with 1.4% sales growth in Waitrose and 3.6% in John Lewis.

'This was due to the exceptional hard work and commitment of our Partners.

'We focused on our differentiated product offering, attention to service and strong value proposition, underpinned by our Never Knowingly Undersold 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.

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

'Looking ahead to 2018-19 we expect trading to be volatile due to the economic environment and anticipate that competitive intensity will continue, driven by the structural changes taking place in the retail industry.

'We are well placed to continue building the strength of our two leading brands through these changes and will maintain our current investment plans.

'Our focus continues to be offering our customers the best range of products and the best value, supported by a market leading service.'