The John Lewis Partnership, which owns and operates department store group John Lewis & Partners and supermarket chain Waitrose & Partners, has today (Thursday March 19) announced new measures to help its shops meet the needs of customers, with a particular focus on the elderly and the vulnerable.
These include a £1 million Community Support Fund to be distributed by Waitrose shops to help those in need in their local communities. Teams in each shop will work with their communities to choose the best way to use the Fund. Help could include setting up additional local delivery services to support the self-isolating, the vulnerable, the elderly and those looking after them; delivering boxes of staples to local care homes and community groups, and donating products to create care packages for customers to share with vulnerable neighbours.
In addition, from tomorrow (Friday March 20) in Waitrose supermarkets excluding petrol forecourt shops and convenience shops, the elderly, the vulnerable and those who look after them will be able to take advantage of a prioritised and dedicated shopping hour. The dedicated hour will be the first opening hour of the shop. Waitrose.com is also working on a way to support its vulnerable customers who need food delivered to them.
JLP is also exploring offering online classes and advice from staff to customers who have to self-isolate at home. These could include nursery advice for expectant parents; wellbeing advice; craft and cookery classes; or on one to one calls.
Waitrose has also taken the decision to close all its in-store cafes and rotisseries and to temporarily suspend making coffees. This will free up extra hours for staff to keep shelves stocked with food and essential items. In some cases, branches will close early to give staff time to restock the shelves.
From today, Waitrose is also taking new steps to ensure food is distributed fairly. In addition to existing limits on some online items, there will be a limit of three for any specific grocery item, and a maximum of two packets of toilet roll per customer buying in shops. Exclusions include fresh fruit and vegetables, Easter confectionery, beers, wines, cider and spirits.
To ensure the wellbeing of staff, who are working long hours to meet the needs of customers, JLP is setting up a support fund to aid those facing additional costs as a result of the pandemic such as childcare fees. Staff will also be offered free meals at work.
JLP chairman Sharon White said: “At this time of national crisis, JLP is wholeheartedly committed to ensuring we support customers and in particular the elderly and most vulnerable. Our commitment to contribute to the wellbeing of the communities we operate in has always been at the heart of our business.
“Partners [staff] have been outstanding, supporting each other and responding to the huge surge in demand at Waitrose. More than 2,100 John Lewis Partners are helping in Waitrose shops this month and supporting deliveries; I am truly grateful to everyone.”
Waitrose & Partners has 338 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 61 convenience branches, and 27 shops at Welcome Break locations.