John Lewis looking good

The late Spedan Lewis would be tickled pink. John Lewis, the retailer he inherited from his dad and turned into an employee-owned partnership, has continued its spectacular run and reported a 51% rise in half-year profits.

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Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

It's all the more impressive given the current state of the rest of the high street. Indeed, John Lewis has seemed impervious to the woes afflicting its rivals of late. The company had a strong summer, buoyed by strong sales and margin growth, and gained market share as others struggled. Its Waitrose store was voted Britain’s favourite shop earlier this year, with John Lewis stores coming an impressive second. Last year was a stormer too, and the partnership's 68,000 staff landed a bonus of 18% of their salary. They could be in for a similar windfall now.

But John Lewis knows not to get carried away. It has talked of ‘much more challenging’ conditions for the rest of the year, and has already reported slower second-half sales. Earlier this week, Next, JJB Sports and the British Retail Consortium all warned that interest rates, rising in the wake of the recent credit crisis, are going to cause serious problems for consumers in the run-up to Christmas.

Spedan’s disciples may be wise to stash the champers – and at least some of that bonus – for a few months yet.

Read our insider view of the John Lewis Partnership here.

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