John Lewis warns of ‘volatile’ economy

john lewis

A record Black Friday helped John Lewis post strong growth in the run up to Christmas but the employee-owned retailer warned intense competition and a “volatile” economy would weigh on its full-year results.

Sales at John Lewis Partnership, which includes Waitrose, climbed 2.5 per cent to around £2bn in the six weeks to December 30, boosted by 3.6 per cent growth at its department store chain, reports The Telegraph.

Black Friday was the biggest day of sales in John Lewis’s history, with revenues that week up 7.2 per cent year-on-year. Electricals climbed 5 per cent across the period, and clothes were up by a similar amount, but homeware dipped 0.3 per cent.

The partnership’s top line growth was dragged down by a slower expansion at Waitrose, where sales at stores open more than one year climbed 1.5 per cent. JLP said that if the period had included New Year’s Eve, as it did last year, like-for-like growth would be around 2.1p per cent.

The supermarket’s sales were boosted by the popularity of Heston Blumenthal’s “Citrus Sherbet Lazy Gin”, as it sold a month’s worth of stock in one day.

But the retailer warned its debts were growing relative to cashflow and its chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said: “Looking ahead to 2018/19 we expect trading to be volatile due to the economic environment and anticipate that competitive intensity will continue, driven by the structural changes taking place in the retail industry.”

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