John Lewis Partnership (JLP) operations director Naomi Simcock has said that “better-quality jobs” are being created by the retailer, despite the group planning to cut 11,000 jobs in five years. 


Naomi Simcock said the retailer is investing in “better-quality jobs” where there is a focus on the “value of work people are doing”

Speaking at the Smart Retail Tech Expo this week, Simcock said: “I was in one of our supply chain depots where we’re rolling out robots at the moment, and the picking robots are super cool, but they’re removing jobs.

“I went to talk to the team whose jobs won’t exist, and they said the job they were doing was awful and they didn’t enjoy it, and now they have a [different] job over here.”

Simcock mentioned that while other roles will be available to workers currently working on repetitive tasks in depots, the Partnership is making “some people redundant.”

She emphasised that the retailer is providing “better-quality jobs” where more investment can be made in training and talent, where there is a focus on the “value of work people are doing”.

As well as robotics in the supply chain, JLP has introduced other technologies to help boost the employee and customer experience.

Headsets worn by staff have been implemented in some Waitrose stores, which Simcock said is helping increase customer metrics, reduce shrinkage and help employees “feel safer”.

AI is also being utilised for forecasting, and the retailer is experimenting with other innovations such as “virtual manuals and digital wallets”.

“You’ve got to find those technologies that give you multiple wins and focus on the outcome of the problem you’re trying to solve,” she said at the expo.

“It’s about testing and learning and coming out of that if it doesn’t work. That mindset is really important.”