Waitrose sales boosted by hungry students

John Lewis has posted another strong weekly performance, with sales at its Waitrose supermarket chain boosted by students stocking up on ready meals for the start of the university term.

The employee-owned company, traditionally seen as a bellwether of the UK retail sector but which has outperformed competitors for more than a year, said sales at its 233-store chain rose 8 per cent to £89.1m in the week to 18 September. "Lasagne and bolognese bakes shot up by 328 and 321 per cent respectively, with sales of Italian ready meals at Waitrose increasing by 50 per cent," the company said.

Sales of another student staple, instant "cup-a-soups", were buoyant, with minestrone seeing a rise of 192 per cent. Sales at John Lewis' 28 department stores and two "at home" stores rose 11.7 per cent to £56.5m.

Growth was driven by a 38 per cent rise in online sales, a 16.7 per cent increase in fashion sales and strong results from London stores. The managing director, Andy Street, said: "The increase kept up our momentum, and was, we suspect, well ahead of the market."

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