Waitrose has set out plans to upgrade its stock management, ordering and replenishment systems in 2018-19, parent group John Lewis Partnership said in its annual results.
“Over the last couple of years we have been upgrading capabilities in a number of areas. Our 2018/19 programmes include upgrading our stock management, ordering and replenishment systems as well as a new transport management system to plan and schedule deliveries more efficiently.”
In addition, it said: “To support Partners in giving great service based on easy access to up to date information, we are rolling out multi-functional devices in our shops.”
Waitrose achieved gross sales of £6.75bn, up 1.8 per cent, with like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, up by 0.9 per cent. However, operating profit before exceptional items was £172.0m, down 32.1 per cent, “held back primarily by lower margins due to our decision not to pass on all cost price inflation to our customers, and by investments in customer experience”.
At John Lewis gross sales were up 2.2 per cent to £4.84bn, with like-for-like sales growth of 0.4 per cent. Operating profit before exceptional items was £254.2m up 4.5 per cent.
Chairman sir Charlie Mayfield said: “As we anticipated, 2017 was a challenging year. Consumer demand was subdued and we made significant changes to operations across the Partnership which affected many Partners. However, their hard work throughout the year was key to delivering gross sales of £11.60bn, up 2.0 per cent, with like-for-like increases in both Waitrose and John Lewis. However, profit before Partnership Bonus, tax and exceptional items was down 21.9 per cent mainly as a result of intensifying margin pressure in Waitrose.”
The group said it expected trading to be volatile in 2018/19, with continuing economic uncertainty and no let up in competitive intensity. “We therefore anticipate further pressure on profits. However, the Partnership will see benefits this year from the many changes we implemented in 2017/18, and the faster delivery of key innovations. Together these will strengthen our competitive position in 2018.”