John Lewis Partnership has poured cold water on suggestions that it received a takeover bid from online giant Amazon for its Waitrose chain last year.

According to The Sunday Times, the etailer had contacted a John Lewis director last November to discuss a potential partnership with the supermarket.

However, the move was “shut down” by the JLP board, sources told the newspaper. 

Following the publication of the rumours, JLP chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said: “These times are ripe for speculation, but there has been no approach to the partnership by Amazon regarding Waitrose, and nor would I expect there to be.”

The department store operator insisted that any contact between Amazon and JLP would not have been about a Waitrose takeover, but would have “been made in the normal course of business”.

Since Amazon acquired US organic grocer Whole Foods for $13.7bn last year, speculation has been rife that it could be seeking to make a similar move in the UK to boost growth of its Amazon Fresh grocery operation.

Amazon has had a supply tie-up with Morrisons since 2016, but merger or acquisition activity is seen by many as a likely option for the online Goliath to become a serious force in British grocery.

This has perhaps become a more urgent issue after Sainsbury’s and Asda unveiled their shock plans to merge last week – a move that could have been prompted by the perceived growing grocery threat of Amazon.