John Lewis profits jump as online sales grow strongly

Image caption John Lewis saw particularly strong growth in its online operations

Pre-tax profits at John Lewis have jumped 28%, with the retailer's Waitrose supermarket and online operations reporting strong growth.

In the six months to 31 July, John Lewis made profits of £110.5m on sales which rose 12.4% to £3.8bn.

Online grocery sales rose 54%, while growth at topped 36%.

Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said the half-year performance was strong and the company "traded well ahead of expectations".

But he also warned of "economic headwinds" for the retail sector as a whole, as tax hikes and public spending cuts hit shoppers' spending power.

He said he was particularly pleased by growth in the company's online operations.

Waitrose's online grocery business remains small, though analysts will be watching to see how it affects Ocado, the recently-floated home delivery company.

Ocado has a long-term deal to supply Waitrose groceries. Mr Mayfield told the BBC that the relationship with Ocado was "good and strong".

The 146-year-old John Lewis group, owned by its 70,000 staff, created a net 1,900 new jobs during the six months.

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