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John Lewis blames ‘challenging times’ as profits crash 99%

The John Lewis Partnership posted underlying pre-tax profits of £1.2 million for the six months to July 28. Credit: PA

The John Lewis Partnership has revealed half-year profits crashed 98.8% as it battled against “challenging times” and the most promotional market for nearly a decade.

The owner of the department store chain and supermarket Waitrose posted underlying pre-tax profits of £1.2 million for the six months to July 28.

It said profits at John Lewis & Partners have continued to be squeezed by strong competition as it moves to keep prices low despite inflation and has offered “unprecedented” levels of price matching through its Never Knowingly Undersold pledge.

The John Lewis Partnership owns the department store chain and supermarket Waitrose. Credit: PA

The group reiterated warnings that it continues to expect profits in the full 2018-19 financial year to be “substantially lower”.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “These are challenging times in retail.”

He added the group was seeing the “most promotional market we’ve seen in almost a decade”, with other retailers discounting heavily.

“With the level of uncertainty facing consumers and the economy, in part due to ongoing Brexit negotiations, forecasting is particularly difficult but we continue to expect full-year profits to be substantially lower than last year for the Partnership as a whole,” he warned.