Source: John Lewis

John Lewis executive director Pippa Wicks said the retailer was reacting to customers’ changing shopping habits

John Lewis is axing its Never Knowingly Undersold pledge as it commits to a £500m investment in value prices.

The retailer is retiring its nearly 100-year-old promise – which saw John Lewis match the price of branded products if customers spotted cheaper prices elsewhere – this summer as shoppers have become “more cost-conscious this year” and turned to e-commerce.

Never Knowingly Undersold is not applicable to online-only retailers. JL said less than 1% of customers actively made price match requests in 2021.

“Never Knowingly Undersold has been a cherished sign of trust for John Lewis for a century but it doesn’t fit with how customers shop today as more purchases are made online,” said John Lewis executive director Pippa Wicks.

“Customers are tightening their belts and we’re responding so John Lewis is more affordable for every customer, every day, whether shopping in-store or online,” she added.

Now, the business has pledged a £500m investment in value and promised to “proactively lead” rather than “reacting to other retailers’ price changes”.

The investment is 25% higher than the amount it spent on keeping prices affordable last year, John Lewis said.

The company reassured shoppers it would have “a broad range of products at different price points for every budget” and that it would continue to monitor rivals’ prices across the most essential products – such as mattresses, microwaves and TVs.

“Our new £500m investment means all our customers can trust they’re getting the quality, style and service they expect from John Lewis at great value prices,” Wicks said.

Other benefits such as the standard two-year guarantees on electricals and five-year guarantees on TVs will remain.

MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis wrote this was “a historic change” for the brand but would not have much practical impact as the pledge had “always been a bit of a psychological sop to consumers” and gave “an arguably false impression that John Lewis is cheap”.

The move comes just under a year after John Lewis launched its new entry-level brand Anyday. The “more affordable” range, which is available in both John Lewis and Waitrose, has brought in £125m sales so far.