John Lewis sales rise despite snow

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Britain’s biggest department store chain John Lewis said sales rose last week as heavy snow prompted its shoppers to switch to the firm’s internet offer.

The employee-owned retailer said its sales rose 4.1 per cent to £52.3m in the week to February 11.

“The start of the week saw the cold wind of winter bite with snow across much of the east and south of the country but overall we had a positive week - an endorsement of our multi-channel approach as customers chose to keep warm and shop online,” said director David Barford.

“The start of the week had the biggest snow impact with a 22.3 per cent drop on last year. The remainder of the week saw some great bounce backs with Tuesday (February 7) putting on the biggest increase at 12.8 per cent.”

The company also revealed Lloyds’ former head of retail banking, Helen Weir, is to join it as finance director.

She will join the company in April and take over from Marisa Cassoni in June. Ms Weir headed Lloyds’ retail division from 2008 to 2011, and prior to that was group finance director.

Ms Weir has also held senior finance roles at B&Q and Kingfisher.

John Lewis chairman Charlie Mayfield said: “I’m delighted to welcome Helen to the partnership as our group finance director.

“Helen brings a wealth of both finance and retail experience and expertise and will be a great successor to Marisa, who has made an enormous contribution to the partnership over the last six years.”

Johnlewis.com sales rose 43.9 per cent.

Sales at its Sheffield store were down 13 per cent.

Many UK retailers are struggling as consumers grapple with inflation, muted wage growth and government austerity measures, and worry about job security and a stagnant housing market.

John Lewis has, however, been outperforming the wider market as its more affluent customers have been less impacted by the economic downturn.

The group also owns upmarket grocery chain Waitrose. Here sales in the week to February 11 rose 5.5 per cent to £101.7m.