An impressive jump of 14 places for everyone's favourite employee-owned business, chaired by ex-army officer Charlie Mayfield, which also takes the gong for the free vote. At its Waitrose food arm, first-half sales were up 8% to £2.85bn, while profits rose 13% to £160.2m. By contrast, the eponymous 'never knowingly undersold' department stores managed £1.37bn and £34.7m in sales and profits respectively - the latter hit by a one-off £47.3m charge for staff mistakenly underpaid for holidays. John Lewis has also scored with its £7m Christmas TV tearjerker, and takes the criteria award for quality of goods and services.
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