UK-based retail giant John Lewis Partnership (JLP) has signed an agreement with Google Cloud worth £100 million ($127m).

John Lewis
– Dan Lockton

The cloud migration will span over the next five years and will continue the digital transformation of JLP's brands including John Lewis and Waitrose.

The company has worked with Google Cloud since 2012. The new deal will see more of JLP's technology migrating to the Google Cloud Platform and using the cloud company's artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools, in an effort to improve its products and services.

It has not been specified whether this will represent a full migration to the cloud, or if the company still hosts some IT on-premise or in colocation facilities. DCD has contacted JLP for more information.

Update - A JLP spokesperson told DCD in an email: "We have two data centers, a primary on-premise, and a secondary third-party managed one. They are currently used to host the majority of our application estate."

JLP's CTO Zak Mian suggested that this partnership could enable tools such as an image-scanning feature in the brand's app to show the company's Home Design Stylists a room that customers are looking to furnish.

"Not only does it save customers a lot of time and hassle, but even before the appointment we can take inspiration from their unique preferences and give tailored recommendations that can even complement products they already have," added Mian.

Nish Kankiwala, CEO at John Lewis Partnership, said: “Investing in cutting-edge technology is not just a choice, it’s a necessity for a modern retailer like us. Core to our strategy is building our technology infrastructure for the long term, drawing on the latest innovations to benefit our customers.”

“As an innovative British retailer with a strong commitment to customer service, the John Lewis Partnership is always looking for new ways to reinvent how it does business,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud. “By turning to Google Cloud’s leading AI and ML tools, John Lewis will help transform the Partner experience, which in turn will deliver a better and more seamless experience for its customers.”

In 2020, JLP entered into a partnership in which it planned to outsource its IT services to Indian tech company Wipro.

The decision to outsource came in the midst of the pandemic, a period when many physical retailers were struggling. The deal would see Wipro handle cloud hosting, networks, end-user computing, and an internal helpdesk. It is unclear whether the new agreement with Google Cloud will impact this - DCD has contacted the retailer for further details.

Update - JLP says their move to the cloud is a long-scale project. "As such we have no plans to change our current arrangements with Wipro who will continue as our strategic delivery partner," a spokesperson said in an email.

John Lewis Partnership is currently the largest employee-owned business in the UK with ~74,000 employees across its brands including Waitrose & Partners, John Lewis department stores, and its financial services, and other retail-related activities.

Earlier this year, Unilever moved workloads for its 400+ brands to the cloud, with Microsoft's Azure its primary cloud platform of choice.