Company profile

John Lewis

More information about John Lewis can be found on the company’s website. 

Our assessment of John Lewis refers to the store’s ‘John Lewis’ branded clothing.  We hold separate data on many of the other brands sold in John Lewis stores.  Check our ‘compare companies’ page for more information on these brands.    

The information we hold on John Lewis was last updated on 1 March 2017.  


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1. Ethical code?  -  yes

John Lewis’ Responsible Sourcing Code of Practice can be found on the company’s website

2. Living wages?  -  no

The John Lewis Partnership’s Human Rights & Modern Slavery Report 2015/16 mentions a programme the company is involved in which is looking at living wages in the tea industry but does not mention any initiatives in relation to the company’s clothing supply chain.  

3. Factory address list?  -  no

John Lewis told us in an email dated 8 August 2012:

‘For reasons of commercial sensitivity, we are not able to publish a list of our suppliers.’

There is still no supplier list published on John Lewis’ website.  

4. Thorough factory checks?  -  making progress

P.15 of the John Lewis Partnership’s Human Rights & Modern Slavery Report 2015/16 states:

‘John Lewis has a ‘no-audit no order’ policy. This means that any factory, irrespective of its risk profile, needs to have an independent audit carried out and meet our minimum requirements before they can start supplying us with products… Our preferred audit standard is the Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA). This standard was developed through multi-stakeholder consultation to provide a best practice framework for social auditing and reporting.’

John Lewis told us in an email dated 8 August 2012 that their own staff visit factories and that audits include confidential interviews with workers:

‘Our Responsible Sourcing team, who oversee the audit process from our London office, visit factories, as do our Buyers.  All our Buyers have undergone training on our Code and have been issued with a Buyer's Guide to our Code and are fully briefed on relevant issues by the Responsible Sourcing team before their visits.  We have recently (May 2012) established a sourcing office in India manned by John Lewis Partners, who as part of their role, will visit factories in the Indian subcontinent… ‘The SMETA (SEDEX Members Ethical Trade Audit) audit protocol which we follow includes confidential worker interviews and the selection of participants is carried out in accordance with that protocol by the auditor, not the factory management. Our auditors inform workers that details discussed in the interviews are confidential and they make every effort to create a relaxed, informal atmosphere in which the discussions can take place.’

However, there is still no evidence that unannounced audits are ever carried out.  John Lewis told us in an email dated 8 August 2012:

‘It is our belief that positive engagement with our suppliers and working together with them to reach the standards set out in our Code is a better way to achieve long-term ongoing improvement in our supply base.’

5. Factory check results published?  -  no

John Lewis told us in an email dated 8 August 2012:

‘As members of ETI [Ethical Trading Initiative], we will submit detailed information on audits and audit outcomes to the ETI in our annual report to them.

However, the annual reports that ETI members must submit are not publicly available and there are still no ethical audit results published on John Lewis’ website. 

6. Worker complaint procedure?  -  no

John Lewis told us in an email dated 8 August 2012:

‘We have not used this approach, but we are aware other retailers have trialled this approach and we will carefully follow any results to assess how effective it is. As a responsible retailer, we believe there is more to be gained by supporting the development of mature industrial relations between management and workers, supported by best in class HR practices.  In our experience, this offers the best opportunities for workers to raise concerns and to become involved in finding solutions and implementing long-term change.’

7. Checks on suppliers of suppliers?  -  no

There is no evidence on John Lewis’ website that the companies audits or requires audits except from its immediate suppliers.  

8. Reuse or recycle scheme?  -  yes

John Lewis is a signatory to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP).  One of the SCAP’s major initiatives is the Love Your Clothes campaign.  Both are initiatives organised by the charity, WRAP.  The goal of the former is described on WRAP’s website:

‘SCAP’s ambition is to improve the sustainability of clothing across its lifecycle. By bringing together industry, government and the third sector we aim to reduce resource use and secure recognition for corporate performance by developing sector-wide targets.’

The latter is a scheme which aims to ‘help change the way the UK consumers buy, use and dispose of their clothing’ and to ‘reduce the environmental impact of clothing across the UK and influence a more circular approach to clothing globally’ (Love Your Clothes website).

9. Sustainable cotton?  -  making progress

The John Lewis Partnership’s website states:

‘Cotton is one of the most significant raw materials we use.  Recognising the social and environmental risks inherent in the sourcing of cotton, we have a target that by year end 2020/21 50% of cotton (by volume) in own-brand products will come from sustainable sources.’

10. Eliminating toxic chemicals?  -  no

John Lewis’ website does not mention any work the company is doing to eliminate the use and discharge of toxic chemicals in its supply chain. 

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