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John Lewis: Strong first half sales growth unlikely to be sustained

Fashion sales led a strong first-half performance at department store group John Lewis, with a 19% rise in the six months to August 6..

Menswear and sportswear were the best performers during the half, with strong sales across casualwear, formalwear, accessories and shoes.

John Lewis said womenswear had also seen strong growth in both branded and own-brand clothing, footwear and accessories. Kidswear also performed well.

The department store business as a whole finished the first half 14.9% up on last year.

Managing director Andy Street said: “Those results show us winning market share in each of our buying groups; fashion, home and EHT [electricals and home technology]; an enormous credit to Jill Little in her final season as merchandise director.”

John Lewis said its website and its Bluewater store were the best performers over the six-month period. The website saw a 36% rise and Bluewater was up 25.4%.

The final week of the half year saw a slower increase in sales than recent weeks with an uptick of 5.3% to £52.68m. However, Street pointed out that it was this time last year that business in general began to recover and observed that the two-yearly figure showed a larger gain of 11.2%.

Street added: “Looking ahead, our first half year’s form should give us great confidence for the all-important second half. But we should be realistic in our expectations as we come up against stronger figures from last year. I suspect we won’t finish with another 15 per cent advance, so enjoy this one!”

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