John Lewis reports bumper profits

John Lewis posted a 60 per cent jump in profits today as Britain’s summer of special events helped the stores and grocery chain weather the economic downturn.

The employee-owned partnership, which has 37 John Lewis shops and 284 Waitrose supermarkets, also credited strong online growth for an 8.6 per cent rise in revenues to £3.9bn and profits of £144.5m in the six months to July 28.

It said consumer demand remained fragile but that its department stores still enjoyed like-for-like sales growth of 8.5 per cent in the following six weeks, close to the 9.2 per cent improvement over the previous six months.

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As the official department store of London 2012, the group has benefited from sales linked to the Olympics and Paralympics, as well as the Diamond Jubilee.

The stores group also picked up business from the launch of new technology, such as Apple’s iPad and the switchover to digital television.

Today’s performance represents a strong recovery from the previous financial year, when the group’s price-match promise triggered the first profits fall since 2009 and a cut in the staff bonus from 18 per cent to 14 per cent of salary.

The business warned today that investment costs meant the pace of growth seen in the first half of this year was unlikely to be maintained over the second half, although the rate of growth will remain positive.

Operating profits in the first half at John Lewis department stores jumped 188 per cent to £45.6m, while Waitrose rose 29 per cent to £142m.