John Lewis Partnership , owner of department store John Lewis and supermarket Waitrose , this week reported half-year results.
Revenue of £4.8bn rose by 2.2%, with Waitrose sales up by 2.2% to £3.1bn, and John Lewis revenue of £1.6bn up by 2.4%. Pre-tax profits of £26.6bn were down by 53.3% on last time, after an exceptional charge of £56.4m related to restructuring and redundancy costs.
Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said the first half of the year had seen “inflationary pressures driven by exchange rates and political uncertainty” that had in turn “dampened customer demand, especially in categories connected to the housing market” – and that it had “chosen to hold back on increasing prices in many areas.” These pressures are expected to continue into next year, hitting full-year profits.
he said: “Our results reflect the acceleration of our strategy to ensure the partnership’s success in the future. This has included changing the way we operate Waitrose branches, creating new flexible team structures with broader responsibilities; further changes in John Lewis to adapt the business for the future and moving from divisional to partnership functions across finance, personnel and IT.”
John Lewis is an Elite retailer in IRUK Top500 research, while Waitrose is a Leading retailer.
This is what the group said about its brands’ multichannel development.
Some 37.3% of total sales took place online, up from 34.5% last year. Investment across online channels included the roll-out of mobile optimised online buying guides. Earlier in the year the retailer launched mobile technology that helps staff answer shoppers’ questions (pictured). Later this year it plans to launch digital myJL gift vouchers via its app.
Operations & logistics
“New developments to improve the customer experience include two-hour delivery slots, self-service Click & Collect kiosks in Waitrose, and the ability to see more detailed product information and branch stock availability through the John Lewis app,” said the partnership statement. It added: “We are confident that our relentless focus on the customer and differentiating our brand from our competitors will set us up for success in the second half, where the majority of our sales and profits are delivered.”
The retailer focused on content both in its stores and online. In stores, events included customer styling sessions with Vogue and wellbeing workshops. Online, the retailer has moved fashion into its photography and content studio in London’s Origin Park. This, it says, enables it to “respond faster than ever to the growing customer demand for inspirational, design-led content.”
John Lewis now aims to have exclusivity in 50% of the products it sells, and a new Only Here campaign focused on products, collections and brands that can only be found at John Lewis.
Online sales grew by 4.3% during the half-year, while convenience stores saw sales grow by 14.6%. Website investment during the year included improvements to search. “Our ecommerce grocery option made good progress with our continued priority of growing our loyal core of online customers helping to build profitable sales growth of 4.3%,” said the financial statement.
The retailer is also investing in improvements to 130 stores over the current financial year.
Waitrose products are now exported to 58 countries, with sales up by 9.1% in the first half.