Sep 20, 2022
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John Lewis raids marketing budget to fund staff meals

Sep 20, 2022

For John Lewis, charity certainly does begin at home. The Partnership has admitted it’s to redirect some of its marketing budget to help pay for food for staff struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

John Lewis

The admission came from the brand’s customer director Claire Pointon at a recent marketing event, reported Campaign magazine.  

She said the retail giant had set aside a “proportion” of the marketing budget to contribute to a scheme that will provide in-store staff with free meals because it is “the right thing to do”. 

Last month, the John Lewis Partnership announced it would offer free food to all employees and temporary workers from 3 October to 6 January to help people experiencing financial difficulties. 

It said it hoped to recruit 10,000 temporary Christmas roles across Waitrose and John Lewis shops and its distribution network. 

At a London event on how brands are responding to the threat of a recession, Pointon said: “We are very much giving free food in all our PDRs [personal dining rooms], which is important to us, and making sure we’ve set that up correctly as a brand.”

She later added: “I’ve taken a proportion of our marketing budget to be able to fund some of those canteens in our stores and that’s the right thing to do. We have to help in communities; that is part of what John Lewis does as well, but actually there are people in our own business who are struggling.”

Pointon highlighted that research by John Lewis had found “a lot” of people were only having one meal a day. 

A spokesperson for the retailer later clarified that other departments, in addition to marketing, had decided to set aside some of their budget for the free meals scheme. The spokesperson added: “We are adapting and responding to the cost-of-living crisis, looking at everything we do as a business to ensure we support our customers and partners in the best way possible – and marketing continues to play an important role within that.” 

Meanwhile, the John Lewis Partnership launched a £500 cost-of-living payment for its employees. It was part of an announcement on its half-year results, which showed pre-tax losses of £99 million for six months up to the end of July. 

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