John Lewis and Waitrose add ‘& Partners’ as businesses focus on what differentiates them from competitors

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Today, the 83,000 Partners who work for the John Lewis Partnership have – for the first time in the company’s history been included in the businesses’ names as both John Lewis and Waitrose have added ‘& Partners’.

The change has been designed to highlight their Partnership business model and culture which differentiates them from their main competitors at a time when both businesses are investing in the service their partners offer.

This morning ‘John Lewis & Partners’ and ‘Waitrose & Partners’ were unveiled on the facades of John Lewis’s flagship shop on Oxford Street, which has undergone a multi-million pound refurbishment, its shop at White City, Westfield, and Waitrose’s shops in Edgware Road and Clerkenwell in London; as well as on johnlewis.com, waitrose.com, carrier bags, uniforms, trolleys, marketing activity, internal shop signs and selected lorries and vans.

The full identity change to all 348 Waitrose and 50 John Lewis shop facades and the combined fleet of 3,500 lorries and vans is being phased over a number of years to tie in with refurbishment plans.

In addition to investing in their identities the John Lewis Partnership said in June that it would continue to invest in both businesses at a rate of £400m-£500m per year, to enable the two retail businesses to differentiate themselves from other retailers by innovating in products, customer service and services.

Today, John Lewis & Partners’ largest own brand womenswear collection of 300 designs, which was created entirely in-house and carries the new name John Lewis & Partners went on sale. The retailer has also launched its first own-brand gifting collection called ‘Find Keep Give’. The range is comprised of unique pieces, the majority of which were designed in-house by Partners.

The packaging of Waitrose own label product ranges will begin a programme of change from October, starting with the new Christmas range later this year, as well as the launch of its new ‘Free From’ range in October.

Both retailers are investing in their Partners to enhance their skills and product knowledge in order to deliver exceptional experiences. These include the creation of Customer Service Ambassadors who provide warm and personalised customer service front of store, the creation of healthy eating specialists, training Partners to offer a concierge style service and equipping Personal Stylists with the skills to deliver daily fashion talks; as well as investing in technology to improve customer service.

Paula Nickolds, John Lewis & Partners, managing director, said: “Our Partnership business model and the inherent strength of our Partners really sets us apart. That’s why the change to our visual identity this week puts Partners back at the heart of everything we do. This move not only reflects the business we have become but more importantly, the business we want to be.”

Rob Collins, Waitrose & Partners managing director, said: “This moment is far more significant than simply adding words and changing the design. It symbolises something bigger, expressing what’s different about our business and signalling our intent to make that difference count for even more: committed, knowledgeable Partners who care about the business they own, sharing their love of food and offering great customer service.”

The launch of the new identity is being supported by the first ever joint John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners national marketing campaign; the single biggest ever campaign for both brands outside of Christmas. It includes a new TV and cinema advert, which features children putting their heart into performing a school play to the sound of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody song and ends with the line ‘For us, it’s personal’.

The campaign, which conveys the key message that when you are part of something, you put your heart into it and shines a light on the stories and skills of more than 100 real Partners from across both businesses to illustrate what makes the Partnership a unique business.

Central to the campaign is a manifesto which will appear in print ads and will be spoken by real Partners from both John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners in a film played in John Lewis & Partners’ shops.

Commenting on the rebrand, Suzy Ross, senior retail strategist at Accenture, said: “This rebrand represents part of a strategic move by the Partnership that could safeguard it from the retail death spiral that is ripping through the UK high street. With consumer expectations sky high and brand loyalty plummeting, consumers are crying out for retailers to change from the sellers of ‘stuff’ to the givers of great experiences. And only some are listening.

It is encouraging to see the partnership pledging a highly personalised, experiential retail service which could achieve the differentiation needed for survival. For retailers like John Lewis to really thrive and deliver experiences that will keep customers coming back, they must embrace new technologies to rapidly respond to changes in consumer behaviour and harness data, insight and artificial intelligence to anticipate and personalise individual customer interactions.”

Chris McCullough, CEO and co-founder at Rotageek, added: “This new branding cuts right to the vital ingredient in perfecting the customer experience. Retail employees are often face of high street brands, and can stand between a customer making a purchase or leaving a store empty handed. Putting their workers – or Partners – into focus signals their intention to ensure their staff are in the best possible position to deliver for shoppers.

“It’s great to see training and technology highlighted as key components here, I just hope this extends to the area that can have the most transformational effect – employee scheduling. It might not sound like a big issue, but half of retailers have suffered from customer complaints as a result of not being able to correctly predict the number of staff needed in a store on any given day.

“Smarter, data driven approaches to scheduling have the power to transform a fundamental function underpinning a retailers’ entire success. More importantly, getting this right means delivering better in-store experiences for customers. By investing in tools that turn day to day tasks into real capabilities with long-term benefits, retailers can differentiate their brand to pull ahead of the competition.”