John Lewis lifted by iPad’s launch

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Demand for the new iPad boosted trading at John Lewis last week as the department store celebrated a record-breaking sales result.

The gadget’s launch-day popularity helped to boost the chain’s electricals and home technology sales by 53 per cent on last year and meant overall revenues rose 20.9 per cent on a year ago to £63.1m for the week to Saturday, a level never before seen for March trading.

The group said months of work went in to securing a healthy amount of iPad3 stock for the launch, at a time when worldwide sales of the device reached three million over last weekend.

The much-anticipated release shared a weekend with Mother’s Day, which ushered in a doubling in gift food trade, and a 50 per cent surge in premium gift sales, led by the Cath Kidston range.

Waitrose, the supermarket arm of the John Lewis Partnership, also boasted robust sales, up 12 per cent on last year to £108.9m.

The jump was buoyed by a 3,500 per cent rise in sales of chickens as shoppers bought ingredients for Waitrose’s recipe of the week, chef Delia Smith’s roast chicken with lemon and thyme.

Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said the figures from John Lewis and Waitrose spell optimism for British retailers after the sector recorded a 0.8 per cent drop in sales between January and February.

He said: “It is hoped that consumers are perking up having apparently taken a breather in February after decent discount-fuelled spending over December and early January.”

John Lewis is planning to open a new store in Leeds in 2015-16 and it is expected to make a final decision on whether it will be in the proposed Eastgate Quarter development soon.

It also plans to open a department store at Monks Cross in York in 2013. The planning committee is due to hear the development proposals at the end of March.