John Lewis & Partners has announced plans to lower prices across its range, but reassured customers that it will not become “Argos for the middle class”.
Speaking today at John Lewis Partnership’s annual results for 2020, Sharon White, JLP chairman, deemed last year “the greatest scale of change in the Partnership’s 156-year history”.
White explained that John Lewis had assessed its pricing structure and readjusted its entry price points, with changes kicking in when stores (in England) reopen on 12 April.
“We're really going to be dialling up our focus on value with new pricing later this year – we want customers to think, ‘Gosh this is John Lewis quality, but at prices that you wouldn't expect,’” she continued.
The partnership reported a loss before tax of £517m for the 53 weeks prior to 30 January – a stark drop from the profit before tax of £146m in the previous year.
John Lewis’ website experienced growth of 73% last year, and was responsible for three-quarters of the brand’s sales (compared with 40% before the pandemic), while Waitrose's online sales have grown fourfold since February last year.
Last September, Waitrose ended its partnership with Ocado and instead sought a younger audience via a delivery partnership with Deliveroo.
James Bailey, executive director of Waitrose, said: “Since the switch [from Ocado to Deliveroo] it is fair to say we've seen a significant growth in spending customer numbers.
“We're really pleased with the progress we've made, but we've got a long way to go in terms of adding more capacity and continuing to improve the proposition because we have got lots of things we can do better.”
In November, John Lewis ranked first on YouGov’s Best Brand Rankings – which measures overall brand health based on impression, quality, value, satisfaction, recommend and reputation – for 2020.
In the same month, John Lewis and Waitrose focused on purpose in their joint Christmas ad campaign, “Give a little love”.
The festive ad raised £3m for food poverty charities FareShare and Home-Start,with a further £2m pledged.
“There is strength in partnership and our unique model which allows us to think with a longer-term horizon, and to innovate more rapidly,” Pippa Wicks, executive director of John Lewis, said.
“Let me reassure you, we will definitely not be Argos for the middle class.”
White added: “I'm really pleased with the results that we've had – they're very resilient, given the challenges of a year that has been uniquely uncertain and massively volatile.”