Christmas trading boosts sales at John Lewis Partnership

UK retail company John Lewis Partnership released its Christmas trading update on Wednesday, which revealed a year-on-year increase of 4.1% in the company’s total sales for the six weeks ending 2 January 2016.

The John Lewis Partnership is said to be the UK’s largest example of worker co-ownership where all 88,700 staff are Partners in the business. It operates 46 John Lewis shops across the UK, including 32 department stores, 12 John Lewis at home and shops at St Pancras International and Heathrow Terminal 2, as well as operating online sales at johnlewis.com. The company also has 346 Waitrose food shops, waitrose.com and business to business contracts in the UK and abroad.

According to the company, its peak trade was occurred later than usual in 2015 and was more concentrated just before Christmas. Waitrose was said to have had record trading days on 23 and 24 December 2015, with sales up 6.0% and up 5.5% respectively.

Sales at the John Lewis Partnership in the six weeks to 2 January 2016 totalled GBP1,811.1m. Waitrose gross sales (excluding fuel) amounting to GBP859.8m, up 1.2% compared with last year, but down 1.4% on a like-for-like basis, while John Lewis gross sales were GBP951.3m, an increase of 6.9% compared with the previous and up 5.1% on a like-for-like basis.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, commented:

“This has been a strong Christmas trading period for the Partnership despite the non-food market seeing significant shifts in trade patterns and the grocery market continuing to be challenging.

“Our performance reflects to a large extent the significant investment we have made in our distribution and IT capability. Despite the fact trade was even more concentrated across a number of very busy shopping days, our operations performed especially well.”

He added: “Our strong Christmas trading performance gives us further confidence in the guidance provided at our interim results in September, where we indicated that we expected the full year Profit before Partnership Bonus, tax and exceptionals to be between GBP270m and GBP320m. This guidance reflected both good operational progress but also an increase of approximately GBP60 million in pension charges as a result of market driven volatility. Our guidance therefore remains unchanged.”

The BBC quoted Sophie McCarthy, an analyst at Conlumino, who said that the retailer’s “emphasis on quality and service” and its investment in online shopping “continues to be favoured by consumers”.