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Andy Street looks to double fashion sales at John Lewis

John Lewis is looking to double sales growth in its fashion division this year, on the back of a 9.1% rise reported this week.

Fashion was one of the strongest components of John Lewis’ 13.5% rise in gross sales, to £3.05bn in the year to January 26, powering particularly in online and click and collect channels. Fashion outperformed the market overall, with brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren performing particularly well and collaborations including Somerset by Alice Temperley driving growth.

In the five weeks of its current financial year, the business has delivered 16% sales growth, or 13.7% on a like-for-like basis.

John Lewis managing director Andy Street said the department store had even performed well during the snow-filled fortnight that damaged Debenhams, recording a 4% like-for-like growth, which he attributed to its dominant omnichannel presence.

As a result of a strong start to 2013, Street said he believed he could “double our business in fashion”, continuing to outperform the wider market.

But he was modest about John Lewis’ potential for market leadership.

“At the moment we have a teen position in fashion,” he said. “The fact we grew at 9% meant we were well ahead of the market, so we have definitely gone up, but couldn’t say exactly where we stand.

“We believe we can double our business in fashion – but even at that level we wont be a market leader. But for that discerning customer who is after good design, we have strength through that.”

Omnichannel will play a strong part in that future growth, Street added, noting that fashion had outperformed the group-wide 40% rise of 2012.

Overall, online now makes up 25% of sales, which Street described as “an inflection point rather than a tipping point” regarding its store portfolio.

“We only have 39 shops, and they are big shops in strategic locations – we are not supporting 200-odd shops throughout the country, so we haven’t got the same issues as lots of our competitors,” he explained.

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