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John Lewis Partnership sees profits plunge

John Lewis says trading in 2009 will be difficult
John Lewis store

John Lewis will accept return gifts if they can be re-sold

The John Lewis Partnership today revealed a sharp plunge in profits after a ‘tough year’.

Underlying profit for the year to 31 January 2009 was slashed by 26.4% to £279.6m

But sales across the partnership – made up of John Lewis department stores and the supermarket chain Waitrose – were up 3% to £6.97bn.

John Lewis profits fall

John Lewis saw operating profit tumble by 26.8%. Sales in its fashion and technology lines held up well, but home goods sales dipped by more than 6%, which the retailer said was down to the collapse of the housing market.

John Lewis is a consistent favourite with Which? members. Take a look at our recent survey of high street shops to check its scores against rivals such as Debenhams and House of Fraser.

The retailer said plans for new stores have been delayed, but new John Lewis stores will still open in Cardiff this September and at the Stratford Olympic site in 2011, along with its second food hall at Bluewater this autumn.

Trade magazine Retail Week today reported that John Lewis is planning to launch a fashion website this autumn that will compete with online fashion shop Asos. The John Lewis online shop will sell own brand lines and in-store offers like Jigsaw, Ted Baker and Whistles.

Waitrose invested in price

Waitrose operating profits fell by 3.4% but sales grew by 5.2% to just over £4bn for the first time. Like for like sales were up 0.4%.

Which? members’ favourite supermarket said it invested heavily in price, with over £30m ploughed into price reductions and 8,400 promotions. There were also 11 new store openings in 2008, including the first Waitrose convenience store in Nottingham.

Waitrose launched its Essential Waitrose range of 1,400 staple groceries at reduced prices this week. A further 22 stores are due to open this year.

John Lewis Partnership says 2009 will be ‘difficult’

John Lewis Partnership chairman Charlie Mayfield said that the chain had ‘met the challenges of the deteriorating conditions.

But he added that he anticipates 2009 to be ‘another very difficult trading year.

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