UK retail heavyweight John Lewis Partnership saw its revenue increase by 2.8%, to £10.02 billion in 2016.
Its John Lewis banner increased 2.7% in like-for-like sales, but Waitrose saw a slight dip (-0.2.%), excluding fuel. Gross sales for the banner were up 2.7%.
Its export sales rose by 14.9%, driven by a new partnership with British Corner Shop and a new export agreement with Alibaba Group to sell Waitrose products in China.
The John Lewis banner outperformed the market, with gross sales up 4% to £4.74 billion.
Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of John Lewis Partnership, commented on the results, "Waitrose and John Lewis have achieved growth in sales and market share, and our profits before exceptionals are up 21.2%.
He said there was "a number of exceptional items in our results this year, which reflect the steps we are taking to adapt the Partnership for the future. After including these exceptional items, the operating profit in both Waitrose and John Lewis was below last year."
In January, the retailer had said that staff bonuses would be significantly lower this year, due to Brexit-influenced inflation and a rise in online competition. the company said that it had awarded bonuses of 6%, equalling more than three weeks pay.
It also recently announced that it would cut 387 positions in a 'restructuring move' in its home estimation and fitting services for curtains, blinds and floor coverings.
Waitrose: "Impressive Growth"
Zoë Mills, an associate retail analyst at research firm GlobalData, shared her view on the Waitrose results: "Impressive growth during the festive season helped Waitrose to produce a resilient set of full year results, despite reporting a 28.9% fall in operating profit and a 1.0% drop in like-for-like sales in H1.
"Full year like-for-like sales were marginally down, but investment in product quality and in-store experience encouraged increased levels of spend among shoppers in H2 – as well as higher prices creeping in towards the back end of the year.
Looking ahead to the coming year, Mills said, "While 2017 will prove challenging for Waitrose, as volume growth comes under increasing pressure from price inflation in the sector, overall performance will see like-for-like sales increase as consumers are forced spend more on weekly shops.
"Slower volume growth will place increasing importance on expanding and improving its food service proposition, so over the course of 2017 it should continue to extend the likes of its bakery grazing areas and Sushi Daily counters to more stores."
The group said in its results that the next three years will see investments in existing Waitrose shops, including the expansion of food service outlets trialled during the year and the new offer of fresh sushi in 36 shops.
John Lewis also recently announced that it will roll out a new shopfloor tech tool for its employees, an iPhone which can ease the purchasing process and enhance service.
The retailer also said that it wants employees' pay to remain above the National Living Wage on average, and increased rates by 5% on average for non-management level employees, encouraged by the 'performance related pay policy'.
The average hourly rate of pay for these positions is £8.67, and will increase after the April pay review, the company said.
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Karen Henderson. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.