Sales momentum at kitchens and bedrooms specialist John Lewis of Hungerford was hit by the loss of key staff in the second quarter.

The multi-showroom premium furniture firm said two of its most experienced in-store designers had — for separate and unrelated reasons — resigned, having a disproportionate impact on sales and bookings.

John Lewis of Hungerford (JLH) said current sales and orders for the first 15 weeks of its financial year had slowed to being flat at £3.1m, having jumped 18 per cent in the company’s first three months of its new financial year.

JLH said the quality of its designers was critical to its business, and that it inevitably takes time to bring in suitable replacements, with a subsequent lead time before they can generate sales.

The company is trying to build on strong 13 per cent revenue growth to £7.4m in the year to end August, during which it opened showrooms in Chiswick and Cobham as well as adding bedroom cabinet to its product programme. Pre-tax profits declined to £60k (2013: £168k).