Waitrose has reported “encouraging” full year results with profits standing firm despite a dip in like-for-like sales and “exceptionally tough” market conditions.

Gross sales were up 1.1% in the 52 weeks to 30 January with like-for-likes down 1.3%.

However, a focus on cost management and efficiency saw operating profit holding almost steady at £232.6m, down 0.8%, but up 3.9% excluding property profits.

“This profit improvement came against a backdrop of exceptionally tough market conditions and continuing food price deflation, as a result of improved productivity in our branches, reduced head office costs and operational improvements in our supply chain,” said Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of John Lewis Partnership.

“Giving customers additional reasons to visit our shops in an online age is a core part of our approach. We now have 117 cafes, six wine bars, nine juice bars, 66 eat-in bakeries and three recently opened sushi bars; together, these drove a 20% uplift in hospitality sales,” he added.

“We continued to add services, including foreign currency Click & collect - now available in 300 branches - and dry cleaning, now in 148 shops.”

A further 12 new Waitrose stores opened in the year - 10 supermarkets and two little Waitrose shops.