• FY pre-tax profit down 3.8% to GBP353.8m
  • Net sales up 5.4% to GBP7.86bn
  • John Lewis like-for-likes down 0.6%

Retail business the John Lewis Partnership posted a smaller full-year profit for the year to 28 January, but still outstripped its own expectations.

The department store and supermarket operator said net sales for its John Lewis business edged up 1% in the year, but like-for-like sales were down 0.6% as internet sales surged up 24.2% to GBP680.8m.

Meanwhile, operating profit for the John Lewis business also fell, down 20.4% to GBP157.9m, but fashion sales improved on the previous year.

“Profits are lower than last year, but better than expected,” said Charlie Mayfield, John Lewis Partnership chairman.

“Profound changes are taking place in the retail sector and importantly this was a year when we upped the pace of innovation and investment.

“That came at the price of some short-term profit, but leaves us in a good place at the start of this year.”

John Lewis said that, after five weeks’ trading in the new financial year, total sales excluding VAT were up 7.7% on last year, with John Lewis sales rising 5.2% (2.4% like-for-like).

The company said: “Current trading conditions are still difficult and consumer confidence remains subdued.

“Despite that, we are continuing to grow faster than the market.”