Department store retailer John Lewis has reported a year-on-year decline in its Home division.
According to its interim half year results, total like-for-like sales at John Lewis were up 3% to £2.1bn, largely driven by fashion sales and a return to shops.
The share of sales in shops has averaged 41% for the half year, compared to 26% last half year, during the pandemic, and 60% before Covid. City Centre stores have come back most strongly with the return to more office working.
“Our home and technology categories, which performed strongly during the pandemic, declined year-on-year,” the retailer said.
John Lewis said its trading operating profit has been maintained at £295m compared to last year.
As for the overall group, the John Lewis Partnership recorded a first half loss of £99m, largely due to the combination of cost inflation not fully passed on to customers, the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, unwinding of Covid shopping patterns and investments to support Partners, customers and suppliers.
Sharon White, Partner & Chairman, said: “The outlook is uniquely uncertain. We believe we are well placed to navigate the current inflationary headwinds. First, we have a strong balance sheet, which helps us navigate through trading volatility with total liquidity at £1.5bn (cash of £1.1bn and facilities of £0.4bn). Second, the loyalty of our customers and a deep understanding of their changing habits and needs. Third, the dedication of our Partners who provide great service for our customers.
“A successful Christmas is key for the business given the first half. We will need a substantial strengthening of performance, beyond what we usually achieve in the second half, to generate sufficient profit to share a Partnership Bonus with Partners. Much will depend on the wider economic outlook and consumer sentiment.
“For our part, we want to give our customers a memorable and affordable Christmas, with Christmas markets in 13 John Lewis stores and 60 new Waitrose products.
“Time and again we have been tested as a Partnership. We have always come through – and stronger – by being mindful of the challenges but also open to new opportunities. We will do so again.”