John Lewis is preparing to scrap its “never knowingly undersold” price promise as part of new chair Dame Sharon White’s strategic review of the business. 

White revealed back in March that the pledge, which was first introduced in 1925, was being reviewed as part of her efforts to revive the group’s fortunes. 

Under the slogan, John Lewis refunds customers the difference if they find an item on sale in another bricks-and-mortar store at a cheaper price within 28 days. 

Over the weekend, White gave the clearest indication yet that the promise would be axed as she ramps up her plans for the Partnership. 

In an interview with The Sunday Times, White said she wanted to “improve” the slogan and place greater importance on the “fairness” of its prices. 

White, who took over from Sir Charlie Mayfield in March, said: “The proposition is important because it signifies being fair to society. We’re reviewing it to improve it.”

A spokeswoman for John Lewis added: “We’ve had fair value as part of our proposition for almost 100 years and fair value will continue to be part of our proposition going forward, whether that’s in a more modernised form or not.”

Analysts have long suggested that John Lewis should scrap the price pledge following its impact on profitability, particularly at a time when struggling rivals such as Debenhams and House of Fraser have been offering widespread discounts to tempt shoppers. 

The Partnership’s profits slumped 23% to £123m in 2019/20, marking its third consecutive year of bottom-line decline. The group, which also owns upmarket grocer Waitrose, shrunk its staff bonus to just 2% as a result – the lowest it has been since 1953. 

The impact of the coronavirus crisis has further impacted John Lewis, emphasising the need for strategic change. John Lewis said in July that it would close eight of its 52 stores, with the loss of around 1,300 jobs. It could, however, open new stores in other locations.   

The department store chain has also launched a furniture rental service as it seeks to offer its customers new services. 

White is set to unveil broader plans for the group in the autumn following the conclusion of her strategic review.