British retail chain John Lewis Partnerships, which in February bought the UK arm of ailing e-tailer [WAMN: 06-Feb-01], is investing £30–£40 million in the launch of its new e-commerce and mail order business.

The department store group will offer around 5000 of its products on the internet and via catalogues. Commented Murray Hennessy, managing director of John Lewis Direct: “Selling via the net marks John Lewis’ introduction into direct selling, something the partnership will be developing further in the near future.”

However, one thing missing from the firm’s online offering is its offline slogan ‘never knowingly undersold’, whereby it vows to match prices charged by local rivals. “We will not meet other internet prices,” admitted merchandise director Nigel Wreford-Brown. “We really do not think it is like-for-like trading.”

The launch will be backed by an ad campaign handled by Burkitt DDB, plus online marketing and other promotions.

News sources: BBC Online Business News (UK);