John Lewis boss Paula Nickolds has singled out womenswear as a key driver in buoying Christmas sales at the department store, citing own-brand as a pivotal aspect.
Cashmere was highlighted as a top-performing product during the six weeks to 30 December, in which gross sales at the department store grew by 3.6% to £1.034bn.
Fashion was also noted as a key category during the period, and sales were up 4.9%.
Nickolds said: “Undoubtedly own-brand played a part in our fashion sales performance, [as well as] the investment we made in our own-brand development team over the past few years. Cashmere had a phenomenal year.
“We’ve invested very heavily in both how we represent our own-brand ranges and in developing them, and this will continue.”
She did not disclose a more detailed breakdown of own-brand sales figures.
Although John Lewis enjoyed sales growth during the six-week timeframe, it predicted that full-year margins will be affected by its price-matching strategy.
Nickolds revealed that the department store “had no option” but to participate in Black Friday on the back of its ongoing “never knowingly undersold” price matching strategy.
She said: “If [Black Friday] didn’t exist, I wouldn’t invent it, but it’s here to stay […] and while I don’t see any signs of that changing in the medium term, we are committed to providing our customers with the best value.”
On the market, Nickolds observed: “Consumer sentiment is likely to remain subdued. I think inflationary pressures will be offset by significant price activity, so the outlook for 2018 is even more challenging for the market and all the more reason why retailers have to be at the top of their game.”
Earlier this week, John Lewis launched an athleisure and home collaboration (pictured) with wellbeing design company Patternity. This comprises 100 items, of which clothing accounts for more than 50. Retail prices for clothing, which includes T-shirts, jumpers, jackets, dresses, leggings, shorts, parkas and pac-a-macs, range from £25 for a bra top to £99 for a coat.