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John Lewis prepares to drop "Never Knowingly Undersold" pledge

Lauretta Roberts
23 August 2020

John Lewis is preparing to drop its "Never Knowingly Undersold" pledge after first introducing the price-matching pledge in 1925.

New chairman Dame Sharon White said the pledge, which has been central to the department store's proposition, has been under review since March. "We're reviewing it to improve it," she told The Sunday Times.

John Lewis's businesses has been radically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced it to close its 50 stores during lockdown, nine of which are to remain permanently closed.

Its online sales are expected to represent around 60% of its sales, versus 40% pre-pandemic. The business has also said it is investigating other business models, including rental, which it has started to explore in furniture.

The Never Knowingly Undersold pledge means that it promises to match the price of branded items sold elsewhere and the customer has up to 28 days to request a refund of the difference in price if they find an item it bought cheaper elsewhere.

While the pledge is central to the partnership's fairness ethos, it has also been criticised for putting too much pressure on John Lewis's profits. Equally as more and more purchases are made online, it made price-matching much more onerous.

A spokesperson for the partnership said that "fair value will continue to be part of our proposition going forward, whether that’s in a more modernised form or not."

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