John Lewis Ends Price Commitment Never Knowingly Undersold
John Lewis is dropping its famous Never Knowly Undersold price promise after nearly 100 years as it faces increased competition from online rivals.
The department store trades the price match promise for a “quality and value” promise, which it says will apply to in-store and online sales.
John Lewis introduced the motto Never Knowingly Undersold as part of a guide for shoppers in 1925, when the company had only two stores.
This allowed the retailer to check and match prices offered at local stores if customers said they had seen an item cheaper elsewhere.
But the phrase has become increasingly obsolete as more people shop online, with engagement excluding prices found online through retailers such as Amazon.
John Lewis said he would now proactively target low prices, rather than reacting to price changes from rivals. He has pledged £500m to the scheme, 25% more than he spent on the refresh last year.
It comes as British families face a looming cost of living crisis, with rising energy bills, higher interest rates and looming tax hikes putting pressure on city budgets. households.
Pippa Wicks, Executive Director of John Lewis, said: “Customers are tightening their belts and we are responding to make John Lewis more affordable for every customer, every day, whether in-store or online.
“Never Knowingly Undersold has been a treasured sign of trust for John Lewis for a century, but it doesn’t align with the way customers buy today as more and more purchases are made online.
“Our new £500 million investment means all of our customers can be sure they are getting the quality, style and service they expect from John Lewis at great prices.”
But Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert, said the change would not have much practical impact for customers.
He said: “The ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ promise has always been a bit of a psychological endorsement for consumers, arguably giving the false impression that John Lewis is cheap.
“When it comes to the store’s new promise to invest £500m in discounts, the proof is in the price of the pudding.”
The latest push for discounts comes after John Lewis launched the discount brand Anyday, which it said was 20% cheaper on average than its other own-label ranges.
Chief executive Dame Sharon White has spearheaded a turnaround for the employee-owned mutual, which includes Waitrose as well as John Lewis.
In a speech earlier this week, she argued that forcing companies to pursue a broader social purpose “is going too far”, saying ethical concerns and maximizing shareholder returns should go hand in hand.