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John Lewis profits dive

FashionUnited| Thursday, 12 March 2009

Department store group John Lewis has said its profits declined last year amid "deteriorating conditions". The partnership said its underlying profits fell 26% to £279.6m, while sales rose 3% to £6.97bn.John Lewis said sales for the first five weeks of 2009 were already 1.6% lower than last year, while sales at its department stores sank 6.8%.

"2009 will be another very difficult trading year," said John Lewis chairman Charlie Mayfield, "as trading conditions worsened markedly during the year as the problems in the financial sector reduced consumer confidence to a low level."

Despite the decline in profits, John Lewis said it generated £591m of cash last year, as compared with £546.3m in 2007. The company announced it would pay out total bonuses of £125.5m. That is the equivalent to about 13% of salary, or seven weeks' pay. "The bonus announced today is well deserved and has been hard earned by all our partners," Mr Mayfield said. In its department stores, like-for-like sales at stores that were open in the previous year dropped 3.4%. Revenue at the chain was flat at £2.81bn.

John Lewis said sales in its home-related products had dropped significantly as a result of the "collapse" in the housing market. John Lewis plans to open its first department store in Wales in September, in Cardiff, and construction has begun on a shop at the Olympic site in Stratford, scheduled to open in 2011. Beyond those two projects, the company said all its new store plans had been delayed.

Its net borrowings rose by £41m to £378m, which John Lewis said reflected the increased capital investment.






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