Brexit is hitting the economy, warns John Lewis boss

The boss of retail giant John Lewis has warned that Brexit is hitting the economy in the wake of a 53 per cent slide in first-half profits.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of John Lewis Partnership, has hit out at the Government and MPs for leaving businesses to struggle in “uncertainty” over Brexit.

“We should be under no illusions,” he said. “Brexit is having an effect on the economy, no question.”

Sir Charlie called for a “serious parliamentary debate” on Brexit amid fears that uncertainty will have a major impact on economic confidence.

The John Lewis Partnership hit back after revealing that it had suffered a 53 per cent reduction in profits due to the strain of Brexit uncertainty on housing-related purchases.

Sir Charlie said he expected to see squeezed margins continue into next year.

The department store and Waitrose supermarket owner reported bottom-line profits of £26.6 million.

Not including restructuring and pension costs, John Lewis sales were up 0.1 per cent in the six-month period.

Profits at John Lewis rose by 9.7 per cent, with Sir Charlie commenting that the second half had started “reasonably well”, reporting sales up by 2.6 per cent over the six weeks.

He said: “We are not expecting any favours from the market. We are going to have to get on and do it ourselves.”