John Lewis Partnership employees have voiced concerns for their jobs after the retailer today outsourced some of its IT function to Indian tech giant Wipro.
The move at the partnership – which runs the John Lewis and Waitrose chains – affects 244 non-customer facing employees based in Bracknell in Berkshire who will be transferred over to Wipro in November. John Lewis has been looking at outsourcing the work for 18 months and staff were informed this morning on a video conference call.
Under the terms of the deal, Wipro will adhere to TUPE regulations which preserve an employees’ terms and conditions. Crucially for John Lewis partners, a consultation will now begin on whether these will include its prized bonus or entitlements to long-term leave.
It is understood employees will still be entitled to the same salary, sick pay and continuous service terms but entitlements like a partnership discount and fuel cards won’t be replicated.
One employee told the Standard: “This has been on the cards for a while but comes at a very uncertain time. Wipro have promised to keep our jobs for 12 months but what happens after that?”
John Lewis said the move was part of a strategy to “respond even more quickly to the digital expectations of customers”.
Wipro, which is listed in India, will deliver technology infrastructure services such as cloud hosting, networks, end user compute and an internal help desk for the mutual’s 80,000 Partners.
New chairman Sharon White, the former boss of Ofcom, is attempting to revamp the mutual, which has seen profits fall and the bonus hit a 67-year low.
Mike Sackman, chief information officer at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Partners transferring to this new supplier – like those who continue to be directly employed by the Partnership – will remain fundamental to the success of our Technology and Change activity and to the future success of our business.”
Srini Pallia, president of the consumer business unit at Wipro, said: “Both companies have synergistic value systems and we look forward to building a successful long term partnership.”
The group has experienced mixed fortunes during lockdown, with John Lewis forced to close its department stores but Waitrose seeing a surge in custom, notably online.