John Lewis’s price prom­ise may be scrapped af­ter 95 years

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Matthew Field

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.

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