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.    

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1. Ethical code?  -  yes

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

2. Code applies to supply chain?  -  yes

John Lewis’ Responsible Sourcing Code of Practice states:

‘Suppliers are expected to communicate and ensure compliance of this Code across all workers, suppliers and any out-workers or sub-contractors engaged in their supply chain.’

3. Living wages?  -  no

We said to John Lewis in an email dated 27 July 2012:

‘Your Responsible Sourcing Code commits to living wages.  In the light of this, I wondered if you have any programmes underway to assess what a living wage is in the countries from which you source and to assess whether suppliers are paid enough for workers to be given a living wage?’

John Lewis did not have any specific programs on living wages that they could point to their response on 8 August 2012, however.  They told us only:

‘John Lewis is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), a tripartite alliance of companies, trades unions and NGOs, which seeks to engage in projects that will deliver sustainable solutions to improve the lives of those working in global supply chains. The John Lewis Responsible Sourcing Code of Practice mirrors the ETI Base Code.’

4. 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.’

5. Factories audited every 2 years?  -  no

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

‘How often a factory is audited depends on the outcomes of initial audits.  Factories who score low on our audit scoring framework have between 12 and 18 months to address the issues raised in the corrective action plan before they face another audit.  However, where severe non-compliances are identified, the re-audit can happen within six months. 

‘Audits are valid for two years and so in the normal course of events a supplier should expect to be re-audited after two years.  However, where a factory has consistently high audit scoring results, we would look at other more effective ways of ensuring ongoing improvement other than audits….

‘We started our formal auditing programme in 2010. With a large and complex supply chain, we have prioritised certain factories for audit, which we have done based on various criteria including country of manufacture and industry. We aim to have all our factories ethically audited by the end of 2014, and to repeat visits every two years. Exceptions occur when a factory is consistently high performing and we adopt a more collaborative approach to sustainability.’

6. Company staff visit factories?  -  yes

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

‘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.’

7. Unannounced factory checks?  -  no

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.’

8. Confidential audit interviews?  -  yes

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

‘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.’

9. Published audit results?  -  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. 

10. 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.’

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