John Lewis Partnership chair Dame Sharon White has unveiled her strategy for the department store and grocery business.

White, who in February took the helm of the bellwether retailer, owner of grocer Waitrose and department store John Lewis, was already faced with the challenge of restructuring it in the face of changing shopping behaviour, but also had to confront the implication of the Covid pandemic.

The new strategy sets out the retailer’s plans to expand its digital, virtual and delivery capabilities in order to reach more customers around the UK, including through an extension of services.

John Lewis will retain its ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ price pledge for the time being, while it researches a “new value pledge”.

With a five-year aim of reaching £400m in profit, White believes that the plan is both self-funding and takes into account any economic uncertainty in the next few years.

The retailer has committed £1bn to accelerate its online business and overhaul its shops to drive better customer experience, using funds saved from streamlining its head office and operations. 

White plans to highlight the value both Waitrose and John Lewis offer customers for high-quality goods, introducing more affordable price points on some of John Lewis’ homewares.

The retailer will expand its delivery capacity for Waitrose to more than 250,000 per week, with 25% of those orders reserved for the vulnerable.

It also plans to continue partnerships with Deliveroo and others to offer more delivery options.

Virtual shopping has proven popular for the retailer throughout the lockdown period, with personal styling and home design services available online or on its app, which the John Lewis Partnership hopes to build up with its virtual Christmas shop this year.

The retailer has made a commitment to be net zero carbon by 2035, including sourcing from net zero carbon farms for its Waitrose food supply.

In a bid to ensure all products are “made to last”, John Lewis has said that all product categories will have a ‘buy back’ or ‘take back’ solution by 2025. All key raw materials in its own-brand products will be from sustainable or recycled sources by 2025, and it will develop sustainable rental and resale options for customers. 

To aid local communities, the Partnership has also pledged to recruit people out of the care system to help build up their careers. 

The famous employee bonus, which was scrapped this year, will return once profits exceed £150m and the retailer’s debt ratio falls below four times.

Chair Dame Sharon White said: “We’ve seen five years of change in the past five months and Waitrose and John Lewis have responded with great agility. Our plan means the John Lewis Partnership will thrive for the next century, as it has the last.

“We’re adapting successfully to how customers want to shop today, while showing the Partnership is improving lives and building a more sustainable future. We’ll share our success with our customers, Partners – who own the business – and our communities.”