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Gloucestershire Business News

Almost 100 per cent drop in half year profits for John Lewis

Revenue was up and gross sales were up, but retail experts were homing in on the near 100 per cent fall in profits for the brand name soon to become Cheltenham's poster store.

John Lewis, which is due to open its newest department store in the High Street of the Gloucestershire spa town in October, posted a 98.8 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to £1.2million for the six months to July 28.

Revenue was up 1.5 per cent to £4856.7 million and gross sales also increased - by 1.6 per cent to £5486.6 million.

Total net debts were £700 million lower than the same period last year, but profits before tax fell 80.05 per cent to £6 million.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, John Lewis Partnership chairman, said: "These are challenging times in retail".

On a more positive note he said: "We're continuing to improve our offer for customers while ensuring we have the financial strength to continue developing our business going forward.

"This is reflected in both brands continuing to grow sales and customer numbers, and our total net debts reducing.

"The pressure on gross margin has predominantly been from our commitment to maintain price competitiveness.

"This reflects our decision not to pass on to our customers all cost price inflation from a weaker exchange rate and from our Never Knowingly Undersold promise, where we have seen an unprecedented level of price matching as other retailers have discounted heavily."

John Lewis need only look down the high street to see how tough conditions are. Rival House of Fraser fell into administration and is not the only retail chain to have succumbed to the immense pressures faced by businesses in the sector.

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