John Lewis said its plans for a 260,000 sq ft flagship store at Eastgate Quarters retail project are progressing well and it is on track to open its doors in 2016.
The department store chain reported a 60 per cent rise in first-half profits yesterday as both its department stores and upmarket Waitrose grocery chain outperformed rivals in a tough market.
John Lewis has performed better than the wider market because its customers tend to be more affluent and haven’t been hit so hard by the economic downturn.
Unlike some rivals, John Lewis said it received a boost from this summer’s events.
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.
It also picked up business from the launch of new technology, such as Apple’s iPad and the switchover to digital television.
John Lewis’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.
Yesterday the group warned that investment costs meant the pace of growth seen in the first half of the year are 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.
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.
“The partnership has delivered strong growth in the first half,” said Charlie Mayfield, chairman of John Lewis Partnership.
“Both Waitrose and John Lewis increased their market shares.”