Profits climb 26 per cent
The John Lewis Partnership has revealed that group sales rose 11 per cent to£6.4 billion in the year to January 27.

Operating profit increased 26 per cent to£354 million and pre-tax profit rose 27 per cent to£319 million. The company also made a partnership bonus payment of£155 million, an increase of£35 million on the year before.

Sales at John Lewis department stores shot up 11 per cent to£2.7 billion. Profits rose 38 per cent to£264 million and like-for-like sales climbed by more than 10 per cent.

The retailer said it had a 'simply stunning' year, with market share gain in most categories. Sales were driven by substantial investments over recent years, clear strategic direction and significant operational improvements. These included improvements to the call centre and deliveries, better stock availability and a more efficient supply chain.

Sales at Waitrose rose 11 per cent to£3.7 billion and profits were up 5 per cent to£244 million for the year. The supermarket also reported like-for-like growth of 5.3 per cent - ahead of the overall market performance of 4 per cent.

John Lewis Partnership chairman Sir Stuart Hampson said: 'The partnership has had an excellent year. It is the engagement of our partners in all aspects of the business that is the foundation of our success.

'I have every confidence that we have the capability at every level to continue to power the partnership and realise our ambitions for the future.'

Group sales for the five weeks to March 3 were up 8 per cent, an encouraging start to what is expected to be a more challenging trading year.

The company said: 'We have an ambitious development programme, with John Lewis Oxford Street completing its major refurbishment, Cambridge targeting an opening in time for Christmas trading and a pressing pace of openings scheduled for 2008 in Liverpool and Leicester.

'Waitrose will add three branches in Cheadle Hulme, Windsor and Rickmansworth, with major extensions being completed at Maidenhead, and John Barnes. All of this is evidence of the progress towards the doubling in size of our business in the next 10 years.'