Waitrose grew like-for-like food sales by 3% in the past year, off the back of expansion and new own-label ranges including Love Life and Good to Go.
Sales of the Essential Waitrose budget range were up 10%, with own-label now accounting for 54% of sales.
Waitrose handled 400,000 more transactions a week than it did in 2010, as total sales grew by almost 8% to £5.07bn. It added 29 new branches over the course of the year, including 15 convenience stores under the Little Waitrose banner. Orders placed via Waitrose.com were up by more than a third, meanwhile.
But profits for the year fell by 5% to £260.6m.
“Planned investments in future growth, including immature space and new formats, have held back profit for the year,” the John Lewis Partnership said in a statement. Profits also fell across the JLP as a whole, down almost 9% to £393.3m against total sales of £8.73bn.
JLP chief executive Charlie Mayfield said: “The results show there is a profound change and not just in terms of market conditions. Technology is changing shopping forever, redefining convenience, with material impact on retail space requirements as a result”.
Despite these reservations, JLP would be pressing ahead with retail expansion, albeit it a slower rate, he added.
“We are fortunate that we don’t have that many stores and they are in primary positions. So the expansion can continue to fill the gaps without fear of cannibalisation. But have we revised our expansion plans since the start of the recession? Absolutely. Store openings such as Preston have been cancelled, while other stores will be smaller than originally planned.”
Waitrose new store openings in 2012 will total 27, a slight decline on last year’s 29. MD Mark Price would not disclose format or location details.
The JLP partner bonus of 14% - worth approximately seven weeks of pay - was also down slightly on last year, reflecting the marginal decline in profits across the group.