The John Lewis Partnership has reduced its losses in the first six-months of the year ending 31 July to £29m from a previous year’s loss of £635m.
Revenue rose 5% during the period to £5.2bn from £4.9bn in 2020 and was boosted by improved sales performance.
The company revealed that Waitrose continued its positive momentum with sales growing 2% year-on-year and 10% when compared to pre-pandemic levels. This was largely driven by online growth as the grocer increased its capacity in shops and delivery fleet as well as through a new fulfilment centre in Greenford, West London, to meet rising demand.
Meanwhile, John Lewis saw its department sales grow 12% compared with the same period the prior year. The group said that almost 75% of sales were online in the first half of the year, and “significantly up” on pre-pandemic levels (40%).
Sharon White, partner and chairman, said: “As we look ahead, there is significant uncertainty. Like the whole of retail, we are managing global supply chain challenges and labour shortages. We are seeing inflationary pressures, which we expect to persist.
“Given the back-ended nature of our trading year, we do not generally provide an outlook. And this year we face additional uncertainty. Even with the success of the vaccination programme the course of the pandemic this winter is hard to call.”
She added: “As we set out in March, we retained business rates relief under the original government scheme to see the group through the pandemic and avoid further job losses. We also said in March that we would keep under review whether to retain business rates relief under the extended scheme. We will take a decision at year end.”