John Lewis commits to IT outsourcing model with Wipro

The John Lewis Partnership has announced a major change to its technology operations through partnering with the tech firm Wipro Limited, which will take over IT infrastructure services for the retailer going forward. As part of the move, it is expected that 244 non-customer facing John Lewis Partnership employees will be transferred to Wipro later this year under TUPE regulations, a measure that acts to preserve employees' terms and conditions during a switch of employer.

The announcement is part of the partnership’s ambition to expand its digital presence and react quickly to changing customer needs in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Following a review of its existing IT and change capabilities, Wipro will now be responsible for delivering technology infrastructure services including cloud hosting, networks, end-user compute and an internal help desk for the group's 80,0000 partners. The employees transferred to Wipro will continue working closely with the partnership in their new roles.

Mike Sackman, John Lewis Partnership CIO commented: “Today is an important milestone in the evolution of our technology and change team, as we become better equipped to support the partnership’s future business strategy. Consumer behaviour is changing and in a post-Covid-19 world we need to be more agile, adapting more quickly to change.

“Wipro will support us in the delivery of that ambition, ensuring that we always have access to up-to-date technologies and specialist expertise. 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.”

Back in 2018, M&S made a similar TUPE transfer of staff, with 250 existing IT roles outsourced to Indian business Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in a bid to retain “a smaller, more technical and commercially focused team”.

At the time, TCS became M&S’s principal technology partner to simplify and consolidate the company’s tech supplier base. Core supplier services transferred directly to TCS, and the day-to-day relationship and project management of specialist suppliers were run by the tech company.