- Don-Alvin Adegeest
John Lewis is to end its longstanding pledge it is “never knowingly undersold” to match competitor’s pricing on the high street.
The company’s chief executive, Dame Sharon White, told the Sunday Times it would be replaced with “fair value for all. “The proposition is important,” she said, “because it signifies being fair to society.”
“We’ve had fair value as part of our proposition for almost 100 years,” a John Lewis spokesperson told the Guardian. “And fair value will continue to be part of our proposition going forward, whether that’s in a more modernised form or not.”
In March the company hinted it could drop its famous pledge, after profits fell to 146 million pounds from 452 million pounds three years ago.
White said at the time: ‘We need to reverse our profit decline and return to growth so that we can invest more in our customers and in our partners. This will require a transformation in how we operate as a partnership. These are the most challenging but exciting times in retail for a generation.”
The high street giant is prioritising its growth and said it would upgrade its buoyant homeware department and focus on strengthening digital channels to be in line with digital-first competitors.
The pandemic has spurned John Lewis’ online sales to increase to 60 or to 70 percent of total sales, an uptick of 40 percent over 2019 and pre-Covid.
Many industry analysts thought the price-matching pledge was a dent in already challenged margins as customers compared it to more promotion-led stores, like Debenhams. The policy is further impossible to uphold online.
In July John Lewis launched a virtual shopping service after it was announced eight of its stores would not reopen after lockdown. The service service allows customers a virtual tour of the store on a free 30-minute video call by a member of staff who can answer questions about products.
John Lewis first launched its pledge “never knowingly undersold” in 1925.
Image courtesy John Lewis