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As Debenhams sees slide in sales

John Lewis enjoys record breaking Christmas week

John Lewis

John Lewis: record week (photo by Terry Murden)


John Lewis enjoyed record-breaking sales in the week up to Christmas, though Debenhams reported less encouraging news from the high street.

The John Lewis Partnership, which includes Waitrose supermarkets, saw sales jump 4% in the week up to 23 December against  the same period in 2016.

Excluding Waitrose, sales jumped 8.9% with strong performances in each of the company’s three major product categories. Electricals rose 11.3%, fashion 8.8% and homeware 7%.

Waitrose sales were more or less static, up by 0.5%.

Department store chain Debenhams has given a more subdued update for its trading up to and over the Christmas period.

In the 17 weeks to 30 December 2017 reported group like-for-like sales fell 1.3%, while like-for-like sales stripping out currency fluctuations were down 1.8%.

Over the 6 week Christmas period itself, constant currency like-for-likes were up 1.2%, while online sales grew 15.1%.

But Debenhams said “the first week of post-Christmas Sale was below expectations despite further markdown investment.

“The UK trading environment has continued to be volatile and highly competitive with weaker demand in some more discretionary areas.

“The market has become more promotion-driven and we responded in order to remain competitive for our customers.”

Debenhams’ shares were down by more than 19.8% in early trading.

The figures follow encouraging figures from Poundland and Next in defiance of warnings that consumer spending would suffer because of rising inflation and falling real wages.

Poundland announced its most successful Christmas ever with sales up 5.6% in the 12 weeks to Christmas Eve.

Next said its full-price sales rose by 1.5% in the 54 days from 1 November to 24 December, compared to the same period a year earlier, though this was almost entirely due to growth in online sales.

Pepkor Europe, owner of Poundland, said it had secured a new two-year independent loan facility of £180m from a financial institution that replaces planned investment from Steinhoff in full, and underscored its day-to-day independence and trading strength.

Pepkor Europe will make a proportion of the loan facility available to Harveys & Bensons for Beds to support their retail and manufacturing operations in the UK and their own development plans. Pepkor Europe was advised by Debt Advisory specialists at PwC.

 



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