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Friday 12th of March 2010
September 17, 2009    

John Lewis posts 20% fall in H1 profits

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by Kay Murchie

John Lewis Partnership, owner of the Waitrose supermarket chain as well as the renowned employee-owned department store, has today posted a 19.6% fall in profits for the six-month period to August 1.

The group, which is seen as a barometer of British retailing, said pre-tax profits were £86.3 million, down from £107.3 million the same period a year ago.

The 145-year-old group, said underlying earnings at Waitrose soared 18.7% to £19.1 million during the six month period - as a result of its launch of its value “essentials” range and free online delivery offer.

The group introduced the range due to the economic downturn, which has led customers away to cheaper rivals such as Tesco.

Commenting on today’s figures, chairman Charlie Mayfield, said: “We believe that trading conditions this year will continue to be better than expected. However, 2010 may be difficult and we foresee a slow, drawn out economic recovery.”

The group trades from almost 30 department stores and over 200 Waitrose supermarkets. It has a workforce of 69,000.

In related news today, fashion group French Connection has announced plans to “close stores which do not make an appropriate contribution”.

The group posted a pre-tax loss of £12.8 million and said it continues to be “severely affected by difficult retail environments”.

Today’s news follows that of Next, who yesterday announced a £185 million half yearly profit.

The retailer said a pick-up in consumer confidence and better ranges were due to the better-than-expected performance in the six months to July.

Simon Wolfson, Next Chief executive, said: “The consumer recession has been less extreme than many forecasters were predicting.”

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