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Sunday 18th of April 2010
April 16, 2010    

John Lewis posts another double digit rise in weekly sales

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by Kay Murchie

The John Lewis Partnership, which is seen as a barometer of British retailing, today announced that sales grew 10% in the week to 10 April, compared with the same period a year ago.

The renowned employee-owned department store said customers are still spending despite the uncertainty over next months’ election.

The firm has been outperforming its rivals this year and said it is optimistic that strong sales will continue.

David Barford, director of selling operations, told Reuters: “Over the two-week Easter period we saw a great 18 percent uplift. All in all a really good two weeks’ trading.”

However, sales at its Waitrose supermarket chain, fell 16.7% to £80 million. However, compared to the equivalent Easter period last year, sales surged 10.7%, highlighting Waitrose’s current position as one of the UK’s fastest growing supermarket.

Waitrose managing director, Mark Price, recently pledged to double sales and market share over the next 10 years as the chain strives to become “more accessible to more people”.

Mr Price wants to double sales from the current £5 billion to £10 billion in the next decade and grow market share to 8% – from the current 4.3%. He also expects the chain to end 2010 as the fastest growing supermarket for the second consecutive year.

The chain is expected to open its first smaller convenience store format within the next few months.

It emerged that chefs Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal will act as food representatives for the brand and will also feature in the chain’s new advertising.

In the meantime, earlier this week, British retailing giant, Debenhams, beat expectations by reporting half-year pre-tax profits of £120.5 million – a 17.9% rise compared with the same period a year earlier.

The figures are likely to boost hopes that the High Street is recovering after the British Retail Consortium (BRC) recently revealed March retail sales rose at their fastest rate in almost four years.

The BRC said the total value of sales surged 6.6% last month compared with March 2009 – the biggest increase since April 2006, while like-for-like sales grew 4.4%.

Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, comments: “Given a series of recent improved data and survey evidence, it does appear that the UK recovery may be becoming a little more firmly established.

“Nevertheless, we continue to suspect that the upside for consumer spending will be limited in 2010 as households still face very challenging conditions,” he added.

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