John Lewis managing director Andy Street has hit back at the recent raft of high street promotions and says brands and retailers should focus on their long term reputations, rather than resort to short-term discounting.
In a letter to The Daily Telegraph published on its website today, Andy Street said that although every retailer was battling for market share, the situation isn’t apocalyptic and retailers needed to stay strong.
In a letter that echoed comments made by Next chief executive Simon Wolfson last week, Street said: “Consumers are feeling bewildered and bombarded by messages about discounting. This can definitely drive sales on one day but is a short-term approach which can ultimately lead to mistrust in the brand as customers expect prices to be competitive at all times, not just sporadically.”
He has also fought back at John Lewis’ dwindling sales figures, down 9% for October compared to the previous year, saying that they should be put into context. Last week John Lewis saw department store sales fall back 13%.
Street said: “Last year was a record year for John Lewis along with a number of other retailers so it is not surprising that given everything that is happening in the wider economy we are fighting to match those figures.”
Street said the John Lewis Never Knowingly Undersold pricing strategy, helped its customers trust the brand in the long term.
He said: “We have done this for over 80 years and it is a long-standing principles such as this that strengthen a brand and determine which retailers can emerge from the downturn stronger.”
Street said: “In these incredibly competitive times being a Christmas ‘winner’ or ‘loser’ doesn’t just mean doing well or doing badly. Being a winner means keeping customers every day, not just on a 20% off day.”