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John Lewis margins hit despite Christmas sales rise

John Lewis increased sales during the Christmas period, with fashion a top-performer, but expects that full-year margins will be affected by its price-matching strategy.

The department store retailer increased gross sales by 3.6% for the six weeks to 30 December, compared to the same period last year, reaching £1.034bn. Like-for-like sales increased by 3.1%.

It highlighted fashion as a top-performing category, with sales up 4.9%.

John Lewis said Black Friday was its “most successful sales day in its history” and contributed to its biggest-ever week of sales, which were up 7.2%.

Gross sales across its department stores and Waitrose hit £1.962bn, up 2.5% on last year.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “The pressure on margin seen in the first half of the year has intensified because of our choice to maintain competitive prices, despite higher costs mainly due to the weaker exchange rate. This will negatively affect full-year financial results as indicated previously.

“Looking ahead to 2018/19 we expect trading to be volatile due to the economic environment and anticipate that competitive intensity will continue, driven by the structural changes taking place in the retail industry. We are well placed to continue building the strength of our two leading brands through these changes and will maintain our current investment plans. Our focus continues to be offering our customers the best range of products and the best value, supported by a market leading service.”

The department store will decide its bonus payments in March.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Bonus time will highlight underlying trend. They’ve invested in own label to protect margins, yet clearly margin pressure remains ahead of this curve.

    Wondering if it is really because they offer outstanding service or maybe JL simply benefit from a lack of decent service at HoF, MnS and Debs?

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