Waitrose has blamed market conditions and not Brexit for the fall in like-for-like sales and profits revealed in its half year results.

Operating profits fell by 10.5% to £121.3m in the half year to 30 July, while like-for-like sales decreased by 1.0%.

Gross sales increased by 2.2% to £3.25bn and on average stores generated 250,000 more customer transactions a week compared to last year.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, said: “We have grown gross sales and market share across both Waitrose and John Lewis, but our profits are down. This reflects market conditions and, in particular, steps we are taking to adapt the Partnership for the future.

“These are not as a consequence of the EU referendum result, which has had little quantifiable impact on sales so far. Instead there are far reaching changes taking place in society, in retail and in the workplace that have much greater implications.”

For the first six weeks of the second half, Waitrose gross sales have increased by 5.0% (1.4% like-for-like, excluding petrol).

Waitrose opened seven new supermarkets in the first half of the year, including two convenience branches but said that new store openings would slow in the coming year in order to focus on existing branches.