Retailer John Lewis Partnership rounded off a successful 2007 by posting a 17.1% leap in operating profit to GBP58.6m and committing to staff bonuses equal to 20% of their salaries.

Group sales were up 6.3% on last year, to GBP400.5m, while the total partnership bonus payment was GBP181.1m, an increase of 18% and individually equal to more than 10 weeks' pay.

John Lewis department store sales were up 5.6% to GBP148.9m, with like-for-like sales up 5.0%. Fashion sales rose 4.6% and John Lewis Direct grew 44.6% during the year.

The sale of the company's manufacturing operations, Stead McAlpin & J H Birtwistle, to Apex Textiles Limited resulted in a GBP9.4m charge for discontinued operations to pre-tax profits.

Charlie Mayfield, chairman of John Lewis Partnership, said: "While we expect trading conditions to continue to be challenging in the year ahead, we are confident that the diversity of our business and our partnership model makes us resilient and able to perform well even in the most testing market conditions."

The group said that said that both its Waitrose and John Lewis units performed strongly.

The group's status in the UK was boosted by Waitrose and John Lewis being awarded the top two places, for the third year in a row, in independent Verdict and Which? consumer satisfaction surveys, the company noted.

It added that investments will be committed to new shops and the development of its online business.

In its outlook, John Lewis noted that there was a general slowdown in the UK housing market in the second half of the year, which has continued to depress sales of large purchases in the new financial year.

Sales for the first five-weeks of the year to 1 March were up 2% in John Lewis though.