John Lewis’ centralised shared services function, Partnership Services, is focusing on “bedding in” its new IT systems and processes over the next year.
The retailer, which operates the John Lewis and Waitrose brands, set up the Partnership Services division in 2009 to improve productivity and streamline costs. The function has grown to provide business services for IT, financial processing, procurement, personnel, Partnership health and pensions administration. Prior to this set-up, services were delivered from each individual store.
Last week, John Lewis revealed it was embarking on a four-year project to roll out Oracle’s ERP across the business, as part of a “substantial infrastructure investment”. This is after it developed a centralised, Oracle-based self-service HR platform for its 85,000 staff.
“In 2014/15 Partnership Services will focus on stabilising the new systems and services it has taken on - particularly in IT and personnel,” John Lewis Partnership said in its results for the 52 weeks ended 25 January 2014.
“New processes need to be bedded in to allow us to gain the full benefits of the investments we have made.”
The retailer said that its Partnership Services division has made “significant” progress in improving productivity in its most established operations. For instance, financial processing of invoices is almost 30 percent more efficient than the previous year.
Meanwhile, the group’s results today revealed how its investment in online and digital for its John Lewis and Waitrose brands is paying off.
The company, which awarded staff 15 percent bonuses today, equal to nearly eight weeks’ pay, reported a 41.4 percent increase in Waitrose.com grocery sales, with total online services sales at the grocer reaching £262 million in the year.
Online sales at Johnlewis.com also increased by 19.2 percent (£184 million) to £1.14 billion.
Charlie Mayfield, chairman of John Lewis Partnership, said: “Innovation in product and service continues to be vital in today’s market and there have been great examples of that in Waitrose and John Lewis. We have improved our omni-channel offer significantly with new online platforms for both brands and expansion of the hugely popular Click & Collect service.”
During the year, the company overhauled the Waitrose website, to make it more tablet-friendly and easier for customers to register, navigate and search for products.
In addition, Waitrose branches have been useful for online customers to collect their orders in store, with 57 percent of all John Lewis Click & Collect orders picked up from these shops. Moreover, visits from phones and tablets now account for 50 percent of traffic to Johnlewis.com.
“We are exploring more ways to integrate our channels and are trialling drive-through collections in five shops. We began a pilot for collection lockers last July,” the company said.
John Lewis Partnership is also hoping to develop closer relationships with customers after launching the myWaitrose card and the my John Lewis membership card last year. As well as giving members extra discounts on products, the loyalty cards will also provide the company with additional customer data and insight across its different channels. This is something that supermarket chain Sainsbury’s recently revealed was extremely valuable to the business, which it achieves through its Nectar loyalty programme.
As a group, John Lewis Partnership recorded a pre-tax profit of £329.1 million, down 4.1 percent on last year.