John Lewis, the popular British department store is extending into more countries where there are large expat populations to offer them online shopping, it has announced.

It is spending £233 million on new stores, systems and online initiatives and will deliver to 27 countries by August including the US, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia.

A major part of the expansion is into Europe where it will deliver goods ordered online to 11 countries including Ireland, France and Germany.

The company will launch a big push for customers in key cities such as New York, Sydney and Auckland that have big expat communities.

‘This is about us being confident there will be real demand from the expat market,’ said Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis. He added, however, that there are no plans to open stores in these countries.

The John Lewis Partnership delivered a 20% jump in pre-tax profits to £367.9 million for the 12 months to 29 January. The impressive performance has enabled JLP to pay its 76,500 employees a bonus of 18% of annual salary, equal to more than nine weeks’ pay, from a total pot of £194.5 million. The group pays all employees, from the chairman to sales assistants, the same percentage bonus.

While both John Lewis department stores and is supermarket Waitrose are performing well, JLP’s chairman, Charlie Mayfield, said consumer spending was under intense pressure and confidence fragile. He was hopeful it would improve from the spring.

The company is famous for its motto, never knowingly undersold, and prides itself on offering a wide range of goods at competitive prices. The never knowingly undersold promise has now been extended to shoppers online.

Waitrose performed well last year and its online business is also poised for further growth as it moves onto a new technology platform, and within the M25 without restriction from July this year.

A new branch has opened in Bahrain, and outlets in Jersey and Guernsey. Overall 25 new branches were opened during the year.

John Lewis will continue with growth in 2011 with a new department store on the Olympic site at Stratford opening later this year, and it will continue to work with property developers to explore potential new locations in key city centres in the United Kingdom such as the recently announced Birmingham shop.

John Lewis will be the Official Department Store Provider to the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

‘We are also encouraged that some parts of the British economy are improving slightly. We are seeing some early signs that property developers are willing to invest in new projects and developments and we expect further progress this year on our store expansion pipeline,’ said Mayfield.

‘Our model allows us to take a longer term view, which enabled us to continue to invest through the recession and the benefit of that has been clearly seen in our results today. Despite the more challenging conditions we expect in 2011, we plan to continue with our investment programme and in the current year we will invest around £0.6 billion, creating around 4,300 new jobs,’ he added.