Department store chain John Lewis generated a sales increase of 2.9% to £52.9m last week, despite riot disruption. Excluding VAT, the rise was 1.3%.

The retailer’s home store in Croydon was broken into on the Monday and remained shut until Wednesday, but the retailer reported a 1.5% increase in home category sales across the business in the period to August 13.

Fashion sales advanced 1.8% but the strongest performer was electricals and home technology, ahead by 7.8% helped by a promotion on own-brand large electricals.

Five stores posted revenues up year-on-year, led by Sheffield which was 8.1% up. Online sales leaped 35%.

John Lewis head of online selling Jonathon Brown paid tribute to staff’s professionalism during the havoc of last week.

He said: “We should all be proud of partners’ efforts in Croydon and across our stores to maintain the high quality of service that we offered to our Croydon customers last week.”

He concluded: “Considering the events of last week on our streets and in the financial markets it was a solid performance across the directorates and channels.”

Sales at grocery business Waitrose climbed 8.4% over the week to £95.9m helped by a fish promotion to coincide with the return of chef Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Fish Fight TV programme.



Exceptional efforts in an extraordinary week

So a challenging week for not only retail but society in general which saw unprecedented events unfold across our cities for both our customers and Partners.

John Lewis at home Croydon was broken into on Monday night (August 8) and our team worked with the police to monitor the situation closely and, first and foremost, ensure the safety of our Partners and customers.

The store remained closed on Tuesday, but the team of dedicated Partners worked hard to ensure the shop was ready to trade on Wednesday and we should all be proud of Partners’ efforts in Croydon and across our stores to maintain the high quality of service that we offered to our Croydon customers last week.

On the sales front overall, we delivered a creditable sales performance of £52.9m which was a +2 per cent improvement on last year and a +14 per cent lift on 2009.

Last week’s comments called out the continued great team effort across online and in our stores and that was clearly in evidence again. John Lewis online managed to pick up the customers that couldn’t or didn’t get to our shops, as our customers turned to our multi channel offering to help deliver an impressive sales growth of +35 per cent on last year, with a number of areas also seeing significant progress week on week.

Our focus on launching newness across the directorates continues, and our customers are reacting well to our new season ranges, especially in our core Home assortments, which helped Home deliver a +2 per cent improvement on last year and +13 per cent on 2009.

Home saw strong performances from beds and bedding as newness in mattresses and others areas satisfied our customers demands.

Fashion also had a decent week, considering all the external factors, to deliver growth on the year with accessories and beauty the notable standouts, delivering strong year-on-year growth buoyed by newness and improved performance across the buying office.

Finally, Electricals saw a strong week on week increase as we saw strength across the directorate. Our current trading focus is delivering the results we were hoping for - in particular Large Electricals was the star of the show as our current Own Brand promotion highlighting our 5-year guarantee was well received by our customers.

In addition it was good to see that strong sales of IT were translating into even stronger sales of accessories, such as cases and laptop bags.

So considering the events of last week on our streets and in the financial markets it was a solid performance across the directorates and channels.

Jonathon Brown
Head of Online Selling, John Lewis

ales last week were 8.4 per cent higher compared to the same week a year ago.

Last week saw the return of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s ‘Fish Fight’ programme on Channel 4, which along with sunny weather, helped boost sales of fish. This included pre-packed fish which increased by 38 per cent in sales as Waitrose was included in a positive round-up of responsible retailers in the programme.

To encourage customers to try different species, we ran a promotion offering customers 20 per cent off five alternative species to cod, haddock, salmon, prawns, tuna. Among these, the best seller was UK-sourced Cornish Pollack, sales of which increased tenfold on last year. South African Hake Fillets also proved popular, increasing in sales by 81 per cent, and the promotion also included Icelandic Dab Fillets, Icelandic Whiting Fillets and Torbay Sole Fillets.

To celebrate the return of bananas from the Windward Isles, we’ve launched an exclusive seven finger pack of bananas from St Lucia, and they’ve already increased by 15 per cent, which is great news given the large volumes of bananas we sell every day.

Almost all the grown and growing banana plants were destroyed by Hurricane Tomas last October which caused extensive destruction to the islands. Now back up and running, farmers in the Windward Isles are producing again which is great news for the many Waitrose customers who often ask for bananas from this part of the Caribbean.

The past few months have been very tough going for the banana farmers and their families. However, through their own courage and resilience, belief in the fairness and sustainability of Fairtrade, and the continued support of Waitrose and its customers, the farmers are once again feeling some hope for their future.

And I’d finally like to thank all our Partners based at the branches affected by last week’s riots. It was clearly a very difficult time for residents, small businesses and retailers alike, and thank you for working hard to react to the changing events, supporting your local community and for managing any disruption.

Mark Williamson
Commercial Director, Waitrose