John Lewis’s price promise may be scrapped after 95 years
JOHN LEWIS is to trade in its “Never Knowingly Undersold” slogan after 95 years because steep discounts at online stores made it impossible to uphold.
The price promise, where the store offered to refund the difference in price if a customer could find a product for less at a rival, is under review and could be scrapped.
Dame Sharon White, chairman of John Lewis & Partners, told The Sunday
Times the slogan was due to be “improved” with an emphasis on the “fairness” of its prices and products. She said: “The proposition is important because it signifies being fair to society. We’re reviewing it to improve it.”
Last month, Dame Sharon confirmed the plans for change in a memo to John Lewis’s 80,000 staff, who co-own the business, along with plans to move to a digital first model and to turn vacant stores into mixed-use housing.
A John Lewis spokesperson said: “As flagged in March, we are reviewing our ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ price promise to ensure we offer fair value for how our customers shop today.
“We’ve had fair value as part of our proposition for almost 100 years and fair value will continue to be part of our proposition going forward, whether in a more modernised form or not.”
The rise of sharply discounted online sales at Amazon made the promise increasingly convoluted.
Meanwhile, John Lewis’s sales have been driven online by the pandemic, raising questions about the future of many of its stores. Some 70pc of the company’s sales are now online.
Dame Sharon, who joined from media regulator Ofcom last year, said she felt John Lewis had “lost its mojo” and needed reforms. Profits slumped to just 2pc last year, meaning its partners received their lowest bonuses in years.
In July, John Lewis announced it was to close eight of its 50 department stores, putting 1,300 staff at risk.