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Big ticket sales hold back John Lewis home sales

John Lewis saw home sales drop by 0.8% in its past financial year, as shoppers held back on big-ticket purchases.

The chain saw operating profits before exceptional items and staff bonus rise by 4.5% to £254.2m. Like for like sales rose by 0.4%, with total sales up 2.2% at £4.844bn.

‘Against a backdrop of a challenging market, home sales were down 0.8%. This was predominantly driven by soft demand in more considered categories such as fitted furniture, fitted flooring and upholstery. Conversely, outdoor furniture performed well,’ said Sir Charlie Mayfield, John Lewis Partnership chairman. He said that despite the fall, the chain had increased its home market share.

‘Our performance reflects the continued focus on putting customers at the heart of what we do. Customer numbers increased by 2.5% to 12.6m and our Net Promoter Score – which indicates customers’ willingness to recommend us to others - increased. As part of our drive to improve customer experience we introduced a number of initiatives including two hour delivery slots, online order tracking and the ability to see more detailed product information and branch stock availability online. In addition and continuing our plans to reinvent the department store, we launched Experience Desks in four shops providing customers with 'concierge style' services to help them make the most of John Lewis. We will conclude our programme to move online content to a single platform, providing customers with a more seamless shopping journey optimised for whichever device they use. Shop openings in White City and Cheltenham will further demonstrate how we are evolving our strategy of reinventing the department store.’

Thanks to a 32% drop in operating profits at sister chain Waitrose, the group’s annual staff bonus has been reduced from 6% to 5%: the lowest since 4% in 1954.