John Lewis Partnership is set to undergo a major digital restructure and invest £1 billion into growing its online business to ensure it will “thrive for the next century, as it has the last”
Its new chair Dame Sharon White has set out a bold new five-year plan to dramatically shift the company’s focus online, while expanding beyond retail and exploring new partnerships.
Following a turbulent year which saw it swing to a £635 million half-year loss and scrap its partnership bonus for the first time, White believes her new strategy will return profits to £400 million by year five.
Primarily, White plans to use £1 billion saved from streamlining its head office operations to invest in expanding its digital capabilities, including ecommerce, virtual shopping and home delivery.
While a chunk of this will be used to overhaul and modernise its store estate, it will also see Waitrose’s delivery capacity expand to over 250,000 orders per week.
Following its recent split from Ocado, Waitrose online grocery business is clearly a key focus of expansion, and will see the partnership introduce more competitive price points.
Waitrose will also continue its partnership with third party couriers like Deliveroo to help it expand its online offering quickly, while ensuring 25 per cent of orders remain reserved for the vulnerable.
In another digital push John Lewis plans to expand its virtual shopping services which have proven popular over lockdown, launching its first ever virtual Christmas shop last month.
Meanwhile the company’s signature “never knowingly undersold” price pledge, which sees the retailer match the price of any item offered cheaper elsewhere, will continue to be honoured while it explores a new “value pledge”.
“We’ve seen five years of change in the past five months and Waitrose and John Lewis have responded with great agility,” White said.
“Our plan means the John Lewis Partnership will thrive for the next century, as it has the last.
“We’re adapting successfully to how customers want to shop today, while showing the Partnership is improving lives and building a more sustainable future. We’ll share our success with our customers, Partners – who own the business – and our communities.”