Sep 13, 2018

Will 'Never knowingly undersold' kill John Lewis?

The latest big fall in profits at John Lewis has thrown the spotlight on to its famous price promise - to be "Never knowingly undersold". A John Lewis spokesperson said that nowadays, "We will match the price of the same product with any of our High Street competitors". Analysts point out that John Lewis has never been purely about price-cutting and could probably jettison the phrase without any undue ill-effects. In the words of Sofie Willmott, senior retail analyst at GlobalData: "Considering the devastating impact that delivering its brand strapline 'Never Knowingly Undersold' has had on profits in H1 2018-19, it is no wonder John Lewis & Partners rebranded last week, stepping up its new strategy to shift the focus away from price and on to service." John Lewis's strong appeal to the moneyed middle-classes and reputation for customer service mean that it has never competed solely on price, so it could perhaps change tack without difficulty.

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