John Lewis sales up 7% to £4.7bn

John LewisJohn Lewis Partnership reported "strong" half-year results today after its department stores and supermarkets continued to grow market share.

The employee-owned partnership, which has 39 John Lewis shops and 294 Waitrose supermarkets, racked up £4.7 billion in sales in the six months to July 27, an increase of 7% despite comparisons with strong trading last summer.
%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%Underlying profits were 4% higher at £115.8 million, although a payment of £40 million to staff following the miscalculation of holiday pay over the last seven years meant bottom-line profits fell 38.5% to £68.5 million.

Partnership chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said trading conditions were showing signs of improvement and that John Lewis and Waitrose had grown sales "well ahead" of their respective markets during a strong first half.

He added: "Looking ahead, I'm encouraged by progress this year and am confident of the plans we have in place for Christmas.

"Despite a strong second half last year, both during the Olympics and at Christmas, I expect us to trade positively in the second half."

In the first six weeks of the second half, John Lewis sales rose by 5.1% on a like-for-like basis, while Waitrose was 4.4% higher.

The Partnership said Waitrose had outperformed the sector for more than four years and that its market share stood at 4.9% - 0.3% higher than a year ago. Its sales in the first half were up by 7.8% to £3 billion, or 6.9% on a like-for-like sales basis, as operating profits climbed 12.8% to £160.2 million.

Department store profits were up 10% to £50.1 million after sales growth of 6.6% to £1.71 billion, an increase of 5.1% on a same-store basis.

Investment costs of £53.2 million, including in store refurbishments and IT, meant the division's overall profits fell 24% to £34.7 million.

In March, the business announced that employees would receive 17% of their salary as part of an annual bonus, equivalent to nearly nine weeks pay.

The business created a net figure of 800 new jobs, taking its headcount to around 85,500 staff.

Five of the most fascinating companies
See Gallery
John Lewis sales up 7% to £4.7bn

Not many companies have films made about them. But the story of social networking site Facebook attracted enough attention to interest Hollywood, resulting in the 2010 film The Social Network. The interest was not just due to the immense popularity of the Facebook website, which was created in its earliest form by Harvard University student Mark Zuckerburg in 2004, though. It was also a result of the legal wrangling between Zuckerburg and fellow Harvard students Divya Narendra and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who founded the social networking site ConnectU and accused Zuckerberg - who worked for them before creating Facebook - of copying their ideas and coding. In something of a damp squib ending, however, the case was dismissed due to a technicality in March 2007 without a ruling being made.

Most of the companies on this list are household names. However, comparatively few people have heard of Olam International, despite it being one of the world's largest agricultural commodity companies.

In fact, it produces enough cotton to keep everyone in the world in socks (three pairs per person, per year).

Fans of chocolate bars such as Mars are also sure to have consumed chocolate made from beans handled by Olam - they just don't realise it.

Headquartered in Singapore, Olam was founded in 1989. It now purchases ingredients such as coffee and cocoa from around 3.5 million smallholder famers based in emerging markets around the world. This enables it to work with communities in rural Africa and Asia on everything from productivity to environmental impact, resulting in a potentially huge impact on some of the world's poorest people.

Love them or hate them, Starbucks coffee shops are everywhere nowadays. Hardly surprising when you consider that the company has opened an average of two stores a day since 1987 (despite having to close some locations down too).
However, back in 1971 there was just one Starbucks coffee shop, in Seattle, Washington.
Named after Starbuck, the first mate on the whaling ship in the novel Moby Dick, the shop originally sold roasted coffee, but did not brew coffee to sell.
Now, though, you can get everything from a blueberry muffin to a mocha frappuccino from your local Starbucks store.

According to the company the white ribbon was introduced under the name in 1969. When competitors first entered the market, Coke made much of its curved bottle design which distinguished it from those that followed. As fewer and fewer people drank from bottles, the ribbon was produced as an alternative distinctive curve.

According to mokokoma, the apple is the fruit of the tree of knowledge. There is some question as to whether the bite taken out of it is a play on the word byte, symbolism of the fruit being eaten and the knowledge imparted, or just to make it look more like an apple and less like a cherry tomato.

Read Full Story