John Lewis Partnership today announced a 51% rise in pre-tax profit for the first half of the year, to £146m.
The partnership put the achievement down to improved gross margin, efficiency initiatives and tight cost control.
Group sales were ahead 6.7% to £3.2b, while operating profit increased 43.5% to £160m.
The John Lewis arm of the business pushed retail sales up 6.1% to £1.2b and profit up 23.3% to £97m – a key driver of which was an improvement in merchandise gross margin, helped by growth in the own-brand offer, favourable exchange rates and better supplier sourcing. Like-for-like sales grew by 6.4%. Furniture, textiles and lighting were the star performers.
John Lewis Direct grew sales by 42%, and Waitrose sales were up 7.1% to £1.9b.
Despite the strong start to the year, JLP warned that “the outlook in the market is more challenging than has been experienced for some time and we expect a tougher trading environment in the coming months”.