John Lewis has come under attack from several of its concession partners for attempting to charge them for online sales.
The upscale department store chain – which already charges concession partners more than its rivals – is now attempting to bill concession partners for every online sale and return sold via its website.
John Lewis has succeeded in persuading many businesses in weaker financial positions to pay £1.50 per order and return, thereby contributing to its own logistics bottom line.
Other concession partners in stronger financial positions have refused to pay the charges.
One source alleged that there were now fewer John Lewis staff on the shop floor to assist customers trying to purchase from concessions.
Most department store concession staff are employed by individual brands but John Lewis – famed for its high level of customer service – staffs its own concessions.
This has, historically, been one reason for its concession charge being higher than that of other department store chains.
One person close to the situation said that John Lewis’ actions amounted to “trying to have your cake and eat it too”.
“People are being asked to pay for John Lewis’ own logistics, essentially,” they added. “John Lewis is seen as being in breach of its contract because it’s meant to have one person on each mat but there are rarely more than one or two people on the whole floor.”
A John Lewis spokesperson said: “From time to time we negotiate terms with our suppliers and all of our negotiations are confidential.”