The John Lewis Partnership (JLP) half year profit plummeted as heavy discounting by struggling rivals helped trigger a 99% fall in first-half profits at the retailer. Ths results will make nervous reading for many.

The employee-owned business, which also includes the Waitrose supermarket chain as well as the eponymous department stores, said pretax profits before one-off items fell to £1.2m in the six months to 28 July, from £83m a year in the same period a year earlier.

It came about as former prime minister Gordon Brown warned a leaderless world is sleepwalking towards a repeat of its near meltdown in late 2008 and early 2009 because it has failed to remedy the causes of the financial crash of a decade ago.