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John Lewis Reveals How Quickly it Pays Vendors

The John Lewis Partnership pulled back the curtain on how quickly it pays suppliers.

Thirty-seven percent of vendors supplying its retail group John Lewis Plc are compensated within 30 days, the British commerce enterprise reported Monday, while 53 percent are paid between 31 and 60 days. What’s more, 10 percent wait more than 61 days for the company to settle its bills, and another 8 percent receive payment that doesn’t meet the original terms.

Vendors servicing its grocery-oriented Waitrose and real estate John Lewis Properties (JLProp ) divisions face a similar fate. Waitrose pays its smallest suppliers on seven-day terms, though on average grocery vendors wait 38 days for payment, a figure that stretches to 41 days at JLProp. Thirty-two percent of Waitrose vendors and 83 percent of JLProp suppliers are paid within 30 days.

Meanwhile, 63 percent of Waitrose suppliers are paid between 31 and 60 days, while that figure is 2 percent for JLProp. Five percent of Waitrose and 15 percent of JLProp invoices are paid later than 61 days or more. Three percent of Waitrose and 20 percent of JLProp, are not paid within the agreed payment terms, according to data for August through January, in compliance with its membership in the U.K. Prompt Payment Code and Duty to Report requirements.


The Partnership said it works with a diverse range of suppliers from 64 countries and has around 700 vendors that it has been working with for over 30 years. “It is the strength of these relationships that allow us to source high quality, responsibly produced products and services for our customers,” it added.

Separately, the company last month opened a John Lewis shop-in-shop at its Waitrose store in Wallingford, in addition to pilot sites at Horley and Godalming, building on a trial initiated at Waitrose’s Lincoln and Lymington branches over a year ago.

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“In our Wallingford shop, a dedicated department offering more than 700 products has been added to the front of the shop. At Horley and Godalming there are more than 500 products available in the general merchandise aisles of the store. Horley also offers a selection of products spread around the shop alongside the relevant product area, for example, wine glasses in the wine department and cafetieres next to ground coffee,” a John Lewis spokeswoman said on Monday. “This is all part of our ambition to sell John Lewis products in every Waitrose store that currently sells general merchandise.”

In October, John Lewis Partnership said that part of its five-year plan was to bring the “very best John Lewis products” to Waitrose customers. It aims for all 280 Waitrose shops that sell general merchandise to stock John Lewis products by the end of 2021. Early test items have included Cook and Dine John Lewis products, Halloween merchandise, Christmas gifts and selected baubles. The company said it plans to allow employees to work across both brands.

In general, the John Lewis retail stores will use greater digital investments to be 60 percent to 70 percent online by 2025, part of an ambition to become a “significant player in beauty and fashion,” which will bring more frequent visits from customers, the company said.

The small-store, urban-center format is similar to the strategy that American retailers like Target and Nordstrom have pursued in recent years.

Like their stateside counterparts, U.K. retailers have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Debenhams, which collapsed into administration in April last year and is in the process of winding down, said on Monday that it would shutter all 15 stores in Scotland, putting 647 employees out of work. The pandemic also saw other retail groups, such as Topshop and Topman parent Arcadia Group and the brands within Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, collapse into administration.

For the retail survivors, many are fine-tuning operations. Retailers primarily selling fashion merchandise, currently in lockdown since Jan. 4, are hoping to reopen on April 12. John Lewis, which is said to be considering closing eight more doors, shuttered two stores last year. And it also received approval from the Westminster City Council to reduce its square footage at the Oxford Street store and convert the extra area to office space.

Retail data firm Springboard on Monday said U.K. foot traffic rose 11 percent last week versus the prior week, thanks in part to warmer weather.

“The increase in footfall in high streets of 15.9 percent was more than double that recorded in either shopping centers, up 6 percent, or retail parks, up 5.9 percent,” it said.

“Footfall data is continuing to deliver ever clearer evidence of lockdown fatigue amongst consumers,” Diane Wehrle, Springboard’s insights director, said. “Not only was this the sixth consecutive week that footfall has increased, but its magnitude was greater than in any previous week and nearly twice that in the week before.”