The John Lewis Partnership (JLP) has narrowed its losses despite taking a £54 million hit from redundancies.

The retail giant unveiled a £29 million pre-tax loss for the half-year to July 31, representing a significant improvement from the £635 million loss it posted for the same period last year.

A John Lewis partner cleans a counter (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

JLP’s chairman, Sharon White, said the loss was better than the group’s expectations as it was boosted by a jump in sales.

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The group, which operates the John Lewis department store chain and Waitrose supermarket arm, said total sales increased by 6% to £5.87 billion.

A Waitrose supermarket
The group operates Waitrose supermarkets (Waitrose/PA)

However, this was significantly offset by the cost of eight more department store closures and more than a thousand redundancies.

In a letter to partners at the John Lewis Partnership, Ms White said: “We have begun the financial year with profits recovering, ahead of both last year and expectations set at our year-end results.

“Traditionally, our profits are skewed to the second half of the year because of the importance of Christmas, especially in John Lewis.”

The retail group added that there is significant uncertainty as it tackles “supply chain challenges and labour shortages”.

JLP said it is also seeing inflationary pressures which it expects to persist.

The group said it has taken measures to avoid disruption to Christmas shopping, including plans announced on Wednesday to hire 7,000 temporary staff.