‘Flying start’ for John Lewis’ new first half

A remarkable week of success in the 2012 Games matched a flying start to the new half year for John Lewis.

'Flying start' for John Lewis' new first half

The department store group posted sales up 22.4% to £63.33m to the week to August 4. Compared with a year ago, the milder weather, new ranges and sporting activity all helped drive demand.

London 2012 merchandise rocketed by 51% on last week. “Undoubtedly, the feel-good factor of Team GB’s medal success has had a direct impact in uplifting sales, not only in our London shops but also in our branches throughout the country,” said John Lewis head of commercial format & implementation Tim Harrison.

The homeware assortments also registered strong growth, up 14.6%, despite customers’ focus being London 2012-based. The best results came from gifting, where seasonal opportunities were capitalised on.

Online sales lifted too, up 44.3% on last year. “There is no doubt that this growth is a function of a lot of things all coming together from hard work across the business,” Tim Harrison said, adding: “The outstanding Click & collect growth also continues to underpin sales.”

And in the shops, the established ‘at homes’ “continued their good run, with Swindon, Croydon and Poole putting in performances to ensure they continue the first-half success.

“It’s a great way to start the second half and gives us real confidence that we are well positioned for the rest of the year,” he said.

Meanwhile, sales at sister retailer grocery chain Waitrose were 9.7% higher than last year, rising to £108.65m.

“Customers have been championing all things British,” said Waitrose supply chain director David Jones. Home-grown cherries enjoyed their best week of the season yet, with sales up 25% on last year while the Heston from Waitrose Lapsang Souchong Tea Smoked Salmon saw sales soar by more than 600%. The patriotic spirit also helped boost takings for local and regional beers by 31%.

With the nation glued to the sporting action, convenient meals and snacks to share were highly sought after. Picnic classics proved popular, with quiches seeing a 40% increase in sales, and customers marking the occasion in style with celebration cakes up 90% on the previous year.

It wasn’t only British athletes who cleaned up last week either: as Brits prepared to entertain guests at home they contributed to a 35% surge in demand for cleaning products.

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