Julian Hunt Waitrose confirmed it was closer than ever to breaking into new trading areas as it reported a record set of figures for the last financial year. The chain has made no secret of its desire to move further into the north and the west, as well as opening more stores in the south west. MD David Felwick, speaking the week before he took up a new role as deputy chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: "Our development team are now looking actively for sites outside our traditional box and we are excited about that. It will not mean opening stores in 2002 but there possibilities for following years." This year Waitrose plans to open five stores in its more traditional trading areas ­ bringing its tally to 141. Two of these outlets will be the Waitrose Food and Home large store format ­ with the one in London's Canary Wharf, somewhat uniquely, being housed over three trading floors. Felwick hinted the Food and Home format faced a bright future within the Partnership. He also confirmed that the Partnership was keen to explore how the own labels of its two divisions could be cross-merchandised further. Waitrose cleaning and laundry products are now being sold in John Lewis department stores, while Jonelle products appear in Food and Home stores. "We are not ruling out extending that in the long term in our larger Waitrose stores," Felwick added. His comments came as Waitrose confirmed its sales rose 10% to £2.3bn in the year ending January. The chain's like-for-like growth was "just better than 5%", said Felwick. A profit figure for Waitrose will not be available until May, but he said it could have risen by as much as three times sales. Felwick said: "We enjoyed the wonderful scenario of sales going up, margins maintained and costs controlled." He accepted that profit year-on-year comparisons were helped by the fact that in the previous 12 months the figure was impacted by the up front costs of revamping the Somerfield stores it acquired and opening six other outlets. But Felwick described the result as a "significant step forward", particularly given the competition was hotting up as Sainsbury and Safeway reinvested in their store base. {{NEWS }}