• Group FY pre-tax profit up 4.1% 
  • John Lewis sales passed GBP4bn mark 
  • Fashion sales increased 5%
John Lewis sales passed the GBP4bn mark for the first time last year

John Lewis sales passed the GBP4bn mark for the first time last year

UK department store operator John Lewis has recorded an increase in full-year profit, driven by strong online growth and innovation.

The group today (6 March) said pre-tax profit rose 4.1% to GBP329.1m (US$550m) for the 52 weeks to 25 January, compared to the same period in the prior year. Sales increased 6.6% to GBP10.17bn, but operating profit fell 6.6% to GBP423.6m.

Excluding the company's Waitrose supermarket chain, John Lewis department stores saw operating profit rise 4.3% to GBP226.1m. Sales increased 7.5% to GBP4.06bn - passing the GBP4bn mark for the first time - while like-for-like sales grew by 6.4%.

Fashion sales were up 5%, helped by the expansion of its Kin label and the success of brands such as Somerset by Alice Temperley and John Lewis & Co.

John Lewis said omni-channel capability and innovation was key to its success. During the year, its stores significantly outperformed the high street and online sales were up 19.2% to GBP1.1bn.

Chairman Charlie Mayfield said: "This has been another good year for the Partnership."

He added: "Innovation in product and service continues to be vital in today's market and there have been great examples of that in Waitrose and John Lewis.

"We have improved our omni-channel offer significantly with new online platforms for both brands and expansion of the hugely popular Click & collect service."

The current year has started well with good trading momentum, the company said. During the first five weeks, overall group sales grew 5.3%, while John Lewis reported a 5.7% increase, with like-for-likes up 5.3% on last year.

"There are more encouraging signs for the economy as a whole and, although this has not yet come through as a significant increase in consumer spending, I am cautiously optimistic that we will see improvements this year," Mayfield added.

"I am confident that however quickly the UK economy emerges from this prolonged period of slow growth, the Partnership is well positioned to continue to strengthen its competitive position and to grow market share in both Waitrose and John Lewis."