Online performance jumps 28.5%
Sales at the John Lewis department store chain flourished in the first week of its new financial year to February 3 - up 5.4 per cent compared with last year.

However, the company said good weather and the Six Nations rugby over the weekend has dampened footfall.

Online sales also soared 28.5 per cent over the week, but results from promotions have been mixed.

Sports equipment and clothing sales have been buoyant, but Valentine's Day sales have so far been lower than last year. However, Easter ranges were introduced last week and the retailer expects sales to build steadily over the next month.

Floor coverings sold particularly well, with double-digit increases, but clothing was more sluggish and mild weather held back sales of some winter accessories.

Total sales at John Lewis department stores rose 10.8 per cent. Online sales rocketed 64.1 per cent for the 52 weeks to January 27.

Trading at Waitrose increased 7.1 per cent to£70.04 million for the first week of the financial year. Unseasonably warm weather accelerated sales of pre-packed salads, continental meats and fruits. Easter eggs have begun to sell well and horticultural sales were strong, particularly for spring bulbs.

Overall sales at the John Lewis Partnership - including Waitrose and the eponymous department store chain - rose 6.5 per cent to£113.65 million for the first week to February 3.

In addition, John Lewis director of retail operations Gareth Thomas has been appointed to the new position of director of retail design and development with effect from July 1.

He will be responsible for the design and development of new department stores and the management of John Lewis's existing selling space, replacing Ann Humphries who is retiring as John Lewis director of retail development.

John Lewis supply chain director Patrick Lewis, will replace Thomas as director of retail operations.

John Lewis Partnership chairman Sir Stuart Hampson said: 'I am delighted to appoint Gareth to the new post. His role will be a powerful driver in delivering the ambitious expansion programme for John Lewis.'