John Lewis group profits collapse by more than 50%

The John Lewis Partnership has blamed falling consumer demand and rising costs linked to the Brexit-hit pound as it reported a collapse in profits of more than 50%.

The group, which is behind the eponymous department store chain and supermarket Waitrose, saw pre-tax profits for the six months to the end of July plummet 53.3% to £26.6 million.

The figure includes exceptional items linked to restructuring, property and redundancy costs.

Retailers have been among the hardest hit by the decline of the UK currency, which has resulted in costs and shop prices soaring, denting consumer demand.

Chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said: "The first half of this year has seen inflationary pressures driven by exchange rates and political uncertainty.

The company operates 353 Waitrose shops across the UK. Credit: PA

He added: "These have dampened customer demand, especially in categories connected to the housing market. The exchange rate-driven increase in cost prices has also put pressure on margin."

Gross sales across the Partnership rose 2.3% to £5.4 billion, but like-for-like sales showed only muted growth.

Like-for-like sales at Waitrose rose 0.7% while at John Lewis comparable sales nudged up just 0.1%.

Stripping out exceptional items, profit before tax was down 4.6% to £83 million, while operating profit sank 39% to £69 million.

The John Lewis Partnership operates 48 John Lewis shops across the UK, 353 Waitrose shops, as well as their respective websites.