The John Lewis Partnership has revealed profit and sales up in its half year, despite a profit fall at Waitrose. Sales also jumped in the second half.

The group revealed pre-tax profit before exceptional items up 12.1% to £129.8m, as it benefited from property profits of £11m. Pre-tax profit after exceptionals surged 89.5% to £129.8m in the year half year to July 26.

Revenue jumped 5.7% to £4.46bn, which John Lewis Partnership chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said was driven by more customers shopping with Waitrose and John Lewis because of its ‘omnichannel’ business, which enables customers to shop more frequently.

The Partnership also revealed in the first six weeks of the second half gross sales were up 7.5%, Waitrose gross sales were up 5.2%, with a 0.9% like-for-like increase. John Lewis gross sales have surged 11.3% and it has achieved a 9.7% like-for-like jump.

But it said the outlook in the grocery sector remains “challenging”.

In the first-half results Waitrose sales increased 4.2% to £2.97bn and like-for-likes grew 1.3%. But operating profit before exceptionals fell 9.4% to £145m because of “substantial” levels of investment across the business and “the market sales slowdown”.

Despite this the Partnership said Waitrose sales outperformed the industry for the 62nd consecutive month and market share increased to 5%.

It generated total online services gross sales of £161m, while online grocery gross sales surged 54%. Waitrose opened 15 new stores in the period and recorded a 670,000 increase in weekly customer transactions. It loyalty scheme myWaitrose reached 4.8 million members.

Mayfield said: “Our first-half performance has been hard-won. In Waitrose, profits were lower as a result of a much higher level of investment in new branches and accelerating the growth of the business through investment in and the myWaitrose programme, as well as the challenging market conditions. However, Waitrose sales performance continued to be well ahead of the market.”

John Lewis generated sales up 9% to £1.49bn in the first half, while like-for-likes jumped 8.2% and operating profit before exceptionals soared 62.2% £56.3m.

Online sales at the department store retailer surged 25.6% to £552m, which means online now represents over 30% of merchandise sales. Shop sales jumped 3.6%. In the period John Lewis opened a flexible format in York and its first airport store in Heathrow Terminal 2, while the first phase of its second National Distribution Centre in Milton Keynes has been completed.

Mayfield added: “The strong profit performance in John Lewis reflects robust sales growth across all categories, especially in the higher margin homecategory, and good cost control across the business.”

Prices could rise if Scotland votes 'Yes', warns John Lewis Partnership boss