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Britain's John Lewis to cease weekly sales reports

Signage for John Lewis is seen at its store in Oxford Street in London

LONDON (Reuters) - British retailer, the John Lewis Partnership [JLPLC.UL], is to stop reporting weekly sales data for its department stores and upmarket supermarket chain Waitrose, robbing the sector of the most up to date snapshot of shopper behaviour.

The country's largest employee-owned business has been publishing weekly figures on its website for a decade and was alone among UK retailers in doing so.

The data enabled investors and retail analysts to track the impact on demand for food, fashion, homewares, electricals and technology of various macro economic factors and the vagaries of the British weather.

But the partnership said Tuesday's numbers for the week to Jan. 25, the final week of its 2019-20 financial year, would be the last weekly data set.

A partnership spokeswoman said weekly data would still be available to its 81,500 employees, which it calls partners, through its intranet and the Gazette staff magazine, which has carried weekly figures for over 100 years. However, the data would be for internal consumption only.

The new reporting structure follows the partnership's move, detailed in October, to operate as one business.

It is proving a difficult time for the group. The department stores chain had a poor Christmas and its managing director Paula Nickolds will leave next month.

Her departure will increase the task facing Sharon White, a former telecoms regulator and government official with no retail experience who will replace partnership chairman Charlie Mayfield at the same time.

The partnership's sales and operating profit will no longer be split between the two brands. Instead, reporting will focus on general merchandise, grocery and services.

It said it will continue to disclose detailed information on trading when it publishes full and half year results and its annual report & accounts.

"What's not explained is why they can't still provide weekly sales (externally) with the new reporting structure, but I guess it goes without saying that nobody else does weekly figures and that JLP haven't got much to shout about in terms of performance," said veteran independent retail analyst Nick Bubb.

(Reporting by James Davey)