As John Lewis appoints a new chair, how have the brand’s public perceptions changed since 2020??
April 12th, 2024, Steve Hatch

As John Lewis appoints a new chair, how have the brand’s public perceptions changed since 2020??

Jason Tarry will take over as Chairman of John Lewis Partnership in September of this year. The ex-Tesco UK chief replaces Dame Sharon White who, in October 2023, announced plans to step down at the end of her initial five-year term.

With a new era for John Lewis approaching, how has opinion of the department store brand changed over White’s tenure?

YouGov BrandIndex shows that Impression scores – which track on a daily basis the proportion of consumers who have a positive or negative view of a brand – declined from 49.5 to 46.9 (-2.6) between February 2020 and April 2024. Recommend scores show a similar deterioration from 42.1 to 38.9 (-3.2). John Lewis is still liked, but a little less than before.

Worsening Value for Money scores may partially explain this: this metric slumped from 16.9 to 13.2 (-3.7) over the period in question. White scrapped John Lewis’ “never knowingly undersold” pledge but the belt-tightening effects of the cost-of-living crisis may have influenced these perceptions. Consumer confidence data shows that the public have been pessimistic about their household finances since August 2021.

Better news for the brand: Quality scores have been static as other measures have dipped, moving only from 59.3 to 59.2 (-0.1) since February 2020. Index scores, which measure overall brand health, have declined from 42.8 to 40.5 since February 2024 (-2.3), but they’re still 28.5 points ahead of average scores across high street retailers (12.0). John Lewis continues to rank among the UK’s best brands, placing fifth in our 2024 tables. On the supermarket side, Waitrose’s Index scores moved from 25.7 to 24.4 (-1.3) over White’s tenure – meaning they still outperform the average score for grocery brands (7.3) by 17.1 points right now.

Finally, it’s important to put White’s chairmanship in context. John Lewis’ profits were down and it was perceived to be struggling even before the onset of COVID-19 and the cost-of-living crisis. Tarry inherits a brand that has recently returned to profitability, and has just pledged a year of “significant investment” after a period of cost-cutting. It will be interesting to see how John Lewis’ incoming leader benefits from this.

This article originally appeared in City A.M.