John Lewis and Waitrose marketers face a nervous wait to see if they will survive a major cull amid plans to bring the two companies further together in an effort to slash costs.
According to “insiders”, outgoing chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield has drawn up plans to reduce duplication of roles in the John Lewis Partnership businesses.
The supermarket chain and department stores currently have separate marketing, finance, procurement and HR departments and Mayfield is being forced to wield the axe following the John Lewis Partnership’s £29.5m half-year loss – the first in its history.
The marketing departments of John Lewis and Waitrose started working closer together last year, with launch of the new John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners identity, which was supported by the first ever joint national marketing campaign; the single biggest ever campaign for both brands outside of Christmas.
At the same time, they launched a new joint loyalty card which brought together the MyJohnLewis and MyWaitrose schemes. The card offers the benefits of the loyalty schemes of both brands from a single card, with the retailer planning to test the impact before making a decision on whether to roll it out more broadly.
At the time, Mayfield said: “[There is a] growing connectedness between the two brands. And on loyalty we are taking steps in that direction with 600,000 customers receiving a combined card that will work across both brands. This is an initial step only and we will be building on that. We see a great opportunity to link both brands together.”
By February this year, 300,000 members had signed up to the joint programme, although there has been no announcement of a national roll-out.
Mayfield will step down at the end of this year, with former World Bank and Ofcom chief Sharon White set to step into his shoes in January.
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