John Lewis saw profits climb 15% to £165.9m for the year ended January 30, but the department store warned that the second half of 2010 was likely to bring more challenging trading conditions.
Full-year like-for-like sales were ahead 2.3% but John Lewis said that trading performance had improved over the second half, when like-for-like sales climbed to be 5.6% ahead.
Gross sales rose 2.8% to £78.1m, but this was skewed by this 52-week year being compared to the previous year, which was a 53-week period. Against 52 weeks, sales actually rose 4.3%.
John Lewis Direct sales rose 18.2% to £393.5m. Within that, sales of fashion rose 78% since September, when the department store launched clothing on its website. It now stocks 60,000 fashion lines on its site, which will grow to 100,000 this year.
John Lewis staff will be rewarded for the strong performance with a 15% bonus of their salary, equivalent to nearly eight weeks pay.
The department store said that gross sales were 17.5% ahead in the first five weeks of the new year, and 14.9% on a like-for-like basis.
However it added in a statement: “We anticipate more challenging trading conditions in 2010, particularly in the second half of the year. The likely withdrawal of monetary stimulus, higher taxes, the possibility of increased interest rates and the implications of public spending cuts make for an uncertain outlook which is likely to impact on consumer confidence. However, the Partnership’s ownership model enables us to focus on the long term and to push ahead with our plans even in difficult market conditions. We remain confident that we can continue to build on the momentum gained this year and will progress with restructuring plans to ensure the Partnership is able to deliver our future ambitions.”