and Waitrose owner making a loss before tax and exceptional items of £92mn, compared to a profit of £69mn a year ago. But it said it’s ‘not unusual for us to make a loss in the first half of the year — we have done so in three of the last four half years’. The loss figure was before exceptional items, principally reducing the size of its London office space. Including exceptionals, it made a pre-tax loss of £99mn. The company also said it now has more customers year on year in both brands (up 6% in Waitrose and 4% in John Lewis) but they are spending less. In-store spending is rebounding and online remains elevated compared to pre-pandemic and customers move their discretionary spending from high-margin, big-ticket household items to restaurants and holidays. Its Waitrose supermarkets sales were down 5% (total and like-for-like) year on year at £3.6bn.
John Lewis department stores operation saw sales up 3% at £2.1bn. And against three years ago, they rose 13% like-for-like (or 4% in total). John Lewis Trading operating profit was ‘maintained at £295mn’. 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. Fashion has been the best-performing category, growing 25% on the year.