The John Lewis Partnership, ranked Elite in RXUK Top500 research, and its sister store Waitrose, are to increase the use of electric delivery vehicles as home delivery continues to soar as lockdown ends.
The group, which pledges to have an entirely fossil fuel-free transport system by 2030 and to be carbon neutral across the entire business by 2050, is set to trial a fleet of what it calls “revolutionary” electric vans in early 2021.
There will be two types of van used in the trial: small ones focussed on John Lewis home deliveries and a larger one for Waitrose food deliveries. Both types of vehicle will have a larger capacity than current delivery vans used by the company and could reduce emissions by as much as 20,000 tonnes each year.
The announcement comes just weeks after the retailer announced plans to build its first on-site biomethane gas filling station at its Bracknell headquarters.
The announcements come as John Lewis rapidly shifts to accommodate a huge swing by consumers to online. While it is planning to not reopen several of its stores post-lockdown, it is also looking at how to make the stores it has fit better with the online shopping shift.
As part of this, the retailer has announced plans to create more personal shoppers to help drive online use of stores, adding to its already rapidly expanding online delivery capacity during the pandemic. The retailer has also recently pledged to boost its click and collect services.
The move to provide a better tie up between stores and online is in line with the remit of its newly appointed executive director, Pippa Wicks, whose job it is to make stores relevant in the new post-COVID shopping world.
She is also joined this week by Nikki Humphrey as its executive director for people, appointed this week to replace Tracey Killen who has retired after a 38 year career with the partnership. Humphrey will oversee people issues as the retailer wrestles to become more omni-channel.