Department store and food chain operator John Lewis Partnership on Thursday posted a three per cent year-on-year rise in full-year pre-tax profit to £146 million amid a five per cent rise in turnover to £4.7 billion.

The company said its department store division saw its sales increase six per cent year-on-year despite a major refurbishment programme and added trading profit before pensions grew six per cent to £267m.

Chairman Sir Stuart Hampson said: "With consolidation high on the retail agenda, both for food retailing and in the department store sector, we believe we are well positioned to benefit from any opportunities that may arise.

"2003 has started with a strong January and - not surprisingly - a quieter February."