Waitrose has revealed that like-for-like sales were down by 1.3% in its first half, as it insisted cut-price techniques were not hitting profits. 

In its half-year results for the period ended 1 August 2015, its online grocery gross sales were also down by 13%, which it attributed to promotions in-store.

However, gross sales grew by 1.1% in the period to £3.18bn. Underlying profit at Waitrose (excluding exceptional items) was up, rising 0.6% year-on-year to £0.8m.

The John Lewis Partnership insisted that price-matching and its Pick Your Own promotions scheme were not hitting profits. Pick Your Own launched in June, allowing myWaitrose card customers to choose 10 items from around 1,250 to buy at a 20% discount. Around 700,000 customers have signed up to the scheme.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “This has been a solid first half for the partnership in a difficult market.”

A statement said the company expected conditions to “remain difficult, especially in grocery where there is little sign of any price inflation”.

Mayfield continued: “However, I expect sales in both Waitrose and John Lewis to perform comparatively well against the market, helped by promising new ranges and online capability.” He said the group expected to see a “further reduction” in net debt.