Investment paying off says chairman

John Lewis sees strong rise in online sales over Christmas

man on moon john lewis videoSales at the John Lewis Partnership were up 4.1% over the festive season as the online operation once again made it one of the winners in the Christmas battle for shoppers.

Online sales rose 21.4%, representing 40% of the total, with sales from smartphones and tablets up 31%.

Chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said it had been a “strong performance” by the group which had been rewarded for its investment.

Sir Charlie said: “This has been a strong Christmas trading period for the Partnership despite the non-food market seeing significant shifts in trade patterns and the grocery market continuing to be challenging. 

“John Lewis achieved another very strong sales performance with impressive growth across all three categories of Fashion, Home and Technology.  Waitrose had record trading days leading up to Christmas and good growth online, while like-for-like sales declined overall during the six-week period.

“Click and Collect continued to show the strength of our two brands working together as a proposition for customers, with 35% of John Lewis online orders collected from Waitrose branches. I was particularly pleased to see overall customer numbers increase 5.8% against the same period last year.

“Our performance reflects to a large extent the significant investment we have made in our distribution and IT capability. Despite the fact trade was even more concentrated across a number of very busy shopping days, our operations performed especially well.”

Gross sales at the department stores were £951.3m, up 6.9% compared with last year and up 5.1% on a like-for-like basis

Waitrose gross sales (excluding fuel) were £859.8 million, up 1.2% compared with last year, but down 1.4% on a like-for-like basis.

Peak trading at Waitrose came late this year and was more concentrated than usual in the days before Christmas. Waitrose had record trading days on 23 and 24 December, with sales up 6% and up 5.5% respectively. 

John Lewis said the home range was up 5.1%, fashion by 6.1% and technology by 9.6%. It has reported a successful start to its clearance with sales up 23% for week ending 2 January.

The group reported patterns of trade shifting “significantly”, characterised by three distinct sales peaks – Black Friday, Christmas and Clearance – with higher sales and a different channel mix for each peak.

On the Black Friday weekend the distribution teams processed 18% more parcels than last year, which equated to five units per second during the peak hour. Sales in the shops for the total six week period were down 1.2%, reflecting lower footfall pre-Christmas, but were up 16.2% during the first week of clearance.  

Online sales grew by 21.4% compared to last year and mobile continued to be the fastest-growing channel, with sales from smartphones and tablets up 31%. Sales through Click & Collect were up 16% and it was the delivery method of choice for half of all online orders. 

Sir Charlie said: “Our strong Christmas trading performance gives us further confidence in the guidance provided at our interim results in September, where we indicated that we expected the full year profit before partnership bonus, tax and exceptionals to be between £270m and £320m. 

“This guidance reflected both good operational progress but also an increase of approximately £60m in pension charges as a result of market driven volatility.  Our guidance therefore remains unchanged.” 

John Lewis Partnership will report its full year results on 10 March.

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