LONDON Aug 21 John Lewis, Britain's
biggest department store chain, has dropped one of the key
benefits of its loyalty card scheme - regular free tea, coffee
and cake - less than a year after introducing the perk.
The 150-year-old group, whose worker co-ownership model has
been lauded by Prime Minister David Cameron, launched its "my
John Lewis" card to much fanfare last October, seeking to
encourage loyalty and gather more data on its shoppers in
exchange for rewards.
Benefits included free tea or coffee and cake, worth about 5
pounds ($8.29), in John Lewis restaurants each month.
However, the retailer said that for new card holders, and
for about 1 million existing card holders, the monthly free tea
or coffee and cake was no longer guaranteed and would instead
depend on shopping frequency, spend, preferences and purchases.
"As we approach our busy Christmas period, we will be
reducing the number of hot drink and cake vouchers issued to
customers as our cafes and restaurants become extremely busy
during this time," John Lewis said.
"All my John Lewis member rewards are continually reviewed
and the rewards our members receive in future do depend on a
variety of factors."
Loyalty cards, pioneered by Tesco's Clubcard two
decades ago, are widespread throughout Britain's retail sector
as they allow store operators to garner information on the likes
and dislikes of their customers.
However, they are costly to run.
Earlier this month upmarket grocer Waitrose, John Lewis'
sister company, warned that a period of unprecedented investment
would affect profits this year. Part of that investment covers
the offer of daily free coffee or tea to holders of its 'my
Some sector analysts have speculated that incoming Tesco
Chief Executive Dave Lewis would review the retention of the
But Morrisons, Britain's No. 4 grocer, has said it
will introduce a loyalty card for the first time later this
($1 = 0.6029 British Pounds)
(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)