John Lewis plc First in Retail Sector to Apply for Self-Supply Licence

Last updated: 2nd February 2022

John Lewis PLC has become the first UK retailer to apply to Ofwat for a water and sewerage self-supply licence. The leading retailer is partnering with Waterscan to facilitate the application process and to subsequently deliver water cost and consumption savings.

John Lewis PLCs corporate responsibility approach is underpinned by key commitments on sourcing and selling products with integrity, helping Partners and communities thrive, and innovating to reduce environmental impact. Accordingly, the company has achieved a reduction in carbon intensity by 70% against a 2010 baseline and has set further targets around waste, packaging, recycling/reuse and emissions reduction. Water efficiency is now a major focus in its strategy to 2028, with targets aligned to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the UK’s 2050 emissions targets.

If Ofwat grants the licence, it will be for John Lewis PLC, with Waitrose & Partners sites also included under the self-supply licence as an associated company. As a licensee, it will:

1. Pay wholesale prices – the price that retailers pay to the water companies and therefore not pay the retail margin added by water suppliers;

2. Become a market participant including membership of MOSL with voting rights and the ability to directly influence the market

3. Be part of a unique peer group community and attend the Self-Supply User Forum to advance best practice when it comes to water;

4. Supply water services to all its English sites.

Waterscan has significant expertise in the retail sector, having also worked with Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrison’s on a variety of wide-ranging water efficiency programmes. Managing Director Neil Pendle commented: “We applaud John Lewis PLC for taking this leadership position to drive sustainable water procurement to the next level. Having analysed the options for John Lewis, we are extremely confident that self-supply will influence its ability to meet its targets and give it an all-important customer voice in the water marketplace – a first for the retail sector. We look forward to helping John Lewis set a new benchmark when it comes to water efficiency in retailing.”

Ofwat granted five new self-supply licences in the second year of the open water market. The water regulator noted in its annual market report that: “Larger customers who have elected to become self-supply retailers have particularly demonstrated the scope for business customers to achieve water savings… Self-suppliers overall continue to report advantages of this type of business model, including price savings, better control of their data, and the ability to achieve water efficiency savings.”

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