Warning as John Lewis profits surge

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The Independent Online

A World Cup boost for sales of televisions and an advertising campaign featuring cooks Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal helped John Lewis Partnership drive a 28% surge in profits, the retailer said today.

The group reported market-beating results at its department stores and the Waitrose supermarket arm, with group-wide pre-tax profits of £110.5 million in the half-year to July 31.

But John Lewis warned it is braced for tougher times ahead after figures showed a slight easing in sales growth for the first six weeks of the second half.

After a resurgent opening half for the department stores, when like-for-like sales surged 12.3%, the group said sales have since risen 8.8%.

Waitrose shrugged off food price deflation that has hit many rivals, with same store sales growth of up to 4.5% in the second quarter. This has slipped slightly to 3.9% in the second half so far.

Charlie Mayfield, chairman of John Lewis Partnership, said: "For the remainder of this year and into 2011, we anticipate more challenging trading conditions as higher taxes and public spending cuts begin to bite and household disposable incomes come under pressure."

But he said the group is confident it will continue to outshine the wider market.