John Lewis indicated earlier this year it was reviewing the promise and hopes to have a new slogan in place by October.
John Lewis is planning to replace its renowned promise to match rivals’ prices, as new chief executive, Sharon White, plans major changes to the business.
“Never knowingly undersold”, a promise that has been in place since 1925, has become harder to defend as competition from online retailers has become tougher. Sharon has said she expected the price pledge to go.
She commented: “The proposition is important because it signifies being fair to society. We’re reviewing it to improve it.”
The department store chain has already announced the closure of eight stores including its flagship Birmingham site which only opened five years ago, as it struggles to adapt to the challenges surrounding the pandemic. This year, between 60% and 70% of John Lewis’s sales are expected to be online, compared to 40% last year.
Even before Covid-19 hit the UK, John Lewis had warned it might not pay the usual staff dividend as competition ate into profits.
Sharon said the chain needed “more inspiration, surprise, fun” and that it would compete by “curating” items in store better, focusing less on women’s fashion and offering more financial, home and garden products. Fundamentally, she wants to reaffirm John Lewis’s reputation as a socially responsible retailer and get its values across to consumers.
For nearly a century John Lewis has promised to refund the difference in price to any shopper who could find an item cheaper elsewhere within 28 days. However, this commitment has never applied to sales from internet-only retailers, which have lower costs and often undercut the high street on price.
John Lewis has confirmed that “fair value” would still be central to its ethos but in a modernised format. A new slogan is expected to be in place by October.