01 September 1999

ONE OF THE LAST major retail chains (along with Marks & Spencer) to resist the tide of credit cards, the John Lewis Partnership bowed to the inevitable on 1 October and accepted MasterCard and Visa cards alongside its own storecard. Chairman Sir Stuart Hampson said the company could not continue to let slip orders placed by phone or via the internet. The decision had nothing to do with poor trading results, he said: '[It] has been in the balance for quite some time because these cards carry appreciably higher costs. We’ve recognised an increasing volume of sales over the telephone and e-mail. We thought that we should increase the range of options that we offer.' Despite insistence that poor trading figures were not a factor in the decision, Sir Stuart also revealed a 22% slump in interim profits to £77.3m. Conversely, the Partnership’s supermarket subsidiary, Waitrose [which does accept credit cards] achieved a 6% increase in sales.