Monday, 24 September, 2018

John Lewis reports 99 per cent slump in half-year profits

The group behind the department store chain blaimed its Never Knowingly Undersold price promise for damaging its profits in “the most promotional market in a decade” John Lewis announces profit slump of 99%
Jean Garcia | 15 September, 2018, 19:57

The John Lewis Partnership has announced a 99% slump in half-year profits, saying its department stores are being squeezed by the "most promotional market we have seen for nearly a decade".

Mayfield shares: "With the level of uncertainty facing consumers and the economy, in part due to ongoing Brexit negotiations, forecasting is particularly hard but we continue to expect full year profits to be substantially lower than last year for the Partnership as a whole".

The John Lewis & Partners department store division took the biggest hit, falling to a £19.3m first-half loss compared with a £54.4m profit a year before as its "never knowingly undersold" price matching policy was stretched by the highest level of discounting by competitors in nearly 10 years.

Waitrose, which saw a 23% increase in online grocery sales, joined John Lewis for the annual Jlab startup search for the first time in 2017, with the aim of finding small businesses which can solve some of the technology challenges faced by supermarkets in the digital age. However, it continues to expect full year profits to be substantially lower than last year for the Partnership as a whole. It is therefore more expensive to import goods.

'I'm not going to get into some sort of ding-dong with the secretary of state for all things European Union'.

Responding to Mr Raab's criticism, Sir Charlie said: "I didn't actually say that Brexit is to blame for our results".

John Lewis Partnership also blamed heavy discounting by rivals and the cost of new stores for the profits fall.

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John Lewis department stores slumped to an underling operating loss of £19.2 million from earnings of £54.4 million a year earlier. Gross sales were up 1.6% to £5,486.6m, revenue rose 1.5% to £4,856.7m and profit before tax fell 80.5% to £6m, with the results in line with a warning made by the company in its strategy update in June.

At Waitrose & Partners, profits were down on last year, but the report added: "From Q1 to Q2 there has been marked improvement in like-for-like sales as well as good progress in rebuilding gross margin, and we are on track for profit growth for the full year".

Waitrose & Partners' profits were 12% down at £96.4m by the same measure.

But he pledged to continue with plans to invest in the group - at a rate of £400 million to £500 million a year - despite the pressures on its profits to drive long-term growth.

But that would be offset by continuing pressure in its department stores and the cost of investing in the business.

The department store also pledged to be "never knowingly undersold" - as competitors cut its prices.

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