The John Lewis group has posted rising revenues and rocketing profits during for the six months to July and aims to build on growth by opening 11 new stores before the end of January 2013.
The group’s Waitrose chain opened 10 stores in the six months to 28 July – four supermarkets and six convenience branches – while John Lewis opened two of its larger ‘at home’ branches, in Newbury and Chichester.
Waitrose plans seven openings during the financial year, including two more convenience stores.
After launching two new Waitrose stores since 28 July, the supermarket chain now boasts 284 shops including 34 convenience stores and outlets at 17 Welcome Break motorway services.
Waitrose’s capital spending reached £79.9 million during the half-year, mainly on new branches, two branch extensions and introducing new warehouse management and retail systems.
John Lewis spent £67.0m which went on new store space, refurbishments and IT improvements.
The group’s total capital spending reached £162.4m, a fall of £91.4m, as a result of lower capital spending on Waitrose.
Revenues climbed 8.6 per cent to £3.93bn in the half-year while profits rocketed by 64 per cent to £109.9m.
At 28 July the group’s net debt was £589.6m, up £12.3m since the end of 2011 but down by £171.2m compared to 30 July 2011. Bonds worth £142m were repaid in the first half.
John Lewis said its balance sheet “is strong, with substantial capacity to increase our borrowings should we wish to”.
The John Lewis Partnership operates 37 John Lewis stores in the UK and reports annual gross sales of over £8.7 billion.