New John Lewis boss is ditching its 'Never knowingly undersold' slogan

New boss of troubled retailer John Lewis is ditching its ‘Never knowingly undersold’ slogan and wants firm to move to ‘digital first’ sales model

  • John Lewis to axe 95-year-old policy of being ‘Never knowingly undersold’
  • Slogan guarantee prices match with high street shops but not online-only rivals
  • New chairman Dame Sharon White has said the policy is under review
  • Company set to forge a partnership with an online rival to deliver Waitrose food

John Lewis is set to remove its ‘never knowingly undersold’ price promise as it moves towards a ‘digital first’ sales model.

Dame Sharon White is the first woman to run John Lewis in its 156-year-old history as the new chairman, and will ‘definitely looking at how it can improve’ on the slogan to fit with the company’s change in direction.

The high street giant’s 95-year-old slogan vows only to match prices with bricks-and-mortar shops, not the online-only rivals who have come to dominate the market. 

Online sales have increased from around 40 to 60 per cent during the pandemic, meaning the promise is not necessarily reflected in the majority of its sales.

Dame Sharon White is the first woman to run John Lewis in its 156-year-old history as the new chairman, and will ‘definitely looking at how it can improve’ on the slogan to fit with the company’s change in direction

‘We are reviewing it because shoppers are shopping in different ways,’ Dame Sharon told The Sunday Times, but she would not speculate on any potential new slogans. 

The former Ofcom chief is also looking to forge a partnership with an online rival such as Amazon to deliver Waitrose food.

The company will end its partnership with delivery provider Ocado in September, before they switch to selling Marks & Spencer products.

Britain’s highest-profile black businesswoman said she rejected the ‘Bame’ (black, Asian, and minority ethnic) label.

‘I hate it because it feels you’re sort of bringing together lots of very disparate backgrounds … I’d love to get to a place where having labels of colour or heritage is just an irrelevance.’

She has also faced sniping over her lack of business experience, having spent most of her career in the civil service, albeit with an economics degree.

The high street giant’s 95-year-old slogan vows only to match prices with bricks-and-mortar shops, not the online-only rivals who have come to dominate the market

But Dame Sharon believes her fresh eyes can see clearly why John Lewis has ‘lost its mojo’, and how to bring it back.

She has already slated Pippa Wicks, second in command at the Co-op, to run John Lewis, and Sainsbury’s James Bailey to head Waitrose. 

Like other retailers, John Lewis has been hit hard by the pandemic, and White was forced to announce the closure of eight stores, including a £35 million flagship above Birmingham New Street station.

Her plan to put it back on track will see it downgrade women’s fashion and get rid of travel and spa sectors.

The focus will move more towards homewares and financial services, and introduce a new department for housebuilding. White is also looking at offering customers the chance to rent products, rather than buy them.

Shoppers at ten John Lewis and Waitrose will also be able to book a slot to avoid long queues from Monday.

Like other retailers, John Lewis has been hit hard by the pandemic, and White was forced to announce the closure of eight stores, including a £35 million flagship above Birmingham New Street station

When they arrive, customers can enter a virtual queue using their mobile phone, allowing them to wait in a cafe or their car.

At the same time John Lewis has announced an interactive sports zone featuring high end kit from Sweaty Betty, Stella McCartney sportswear and £2,000 Peloton exercise bikes to give customers a ‘live studio experience’.

The first concession opened in the Oxford Street store yesterday, and another eight will follow in stores including Southampton, High Wycombe and Horsham.

The twin announcements are the latest moves to turn the ailing retailer’s fortunes around after profits crashed from £452m in 2016 to £146m in the year to January. 

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