John Lewis Partnership becomes one of the first UK businesses to roll out NHS test and trace rapid covid-19 testing

Friday 18 December 2020

The John Lewis Partnership has become one of the first UK businesses to successfully pilot and roll out NHS Test and Trace lateral flow Covid-19 testing, thanks to a partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care.

Rapid Covid-19 testing was introduced initially to the national John Lewis distribution centre at Magna Park, Milton Keynes, in November, which in response to huge Black Friday and pre-Christmas demand, processed around 135,000 orders per day during the month.

Up to 1,000 Partners and temporary agency staff volunteered to be tested up to three-times a week. With around 1 in 3 individuals with Covid-19 not displaying symptoms, testing helps to protect staff and customers by quickly identifying those that need to isolate, ensuring they did not unknowingly pass on the virus.

Due to the pilot’s initial success, testing will now be available at 40 John Lewis and Waitrose locations in England. This includes Waitrose and John Lewis supply chain sites, customer fulfilment centres, John Lewis textiles factory and selected Waitrose and John Lewis shops. 

Working closely with NHS Test and Trace, it will provide capability to test around 16,000 Partners and temporary agency staff per week and enable John Lewis and Waitrose to meet customer needs throughout the festive season.

Testing is voluntary, providing results within 30 minutes and feeds directly into the national testing database. Rapid testing is part of the UK Government’s programme to introduce mass testing across the country, including as part of a recent whole city pilot in Liverpool.

Andrew Murphy, Executive Director for Operations at the John Lewis Partnership said: “We’re proud to have helped develop and establish a testing scheme that contributes towards the UK’s fight against Covid-19. We already have a wide range of measures in place to keep our Partners and customers safe and rapid testing builds on this at our busiest time of the year.”

Health Minister Lord Bethell said:“I’m delighted that the John Lewis Partnership are working alongside us in piloting the latest testing technology. It’s fantastic that such a renowned company is joining us in our efforts to make testing available for workers up and down the country.”

“We have recently published a list of approved private providers of COVID-19 testing, to help employers access the services they need to carry out testing and identify the virus amongst their staff. This will mean staff can safely self-isolate and avoid any subsequent transmission.”

Baroness Dido Harding, Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, said: “This pilot is one of many which will lay the foundations for the next phase of NHS Test and Trace with rapid, targeted testing which will allow us to identify even more people who may be unknowingly carrying the virus, more quickly.”

“In addition to the testing taking place in work places such as the John Lewis Partnership, we are carrying out rapid, regular testing in hospitals, care homes, universities and other areas that we value and that we need as a society to stay open and stay safe.”


About the John Lewis Partnership

The John Lewis Partnership owns and operates two of Britain's best-loved retail brands - John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners. Started as a radical idea nearly a century ago, the Partnership is the largest employee-owned business in the UK and amongst the largest in the world, with over 78,000 employees who are all Partners in the business. For all intents and purposes, the Partnership is a social enterprise; the profits made are reinvested into the business - for customers and Partners. John Lewis & Partners operates 42 shops plus one outlet across the UK as well as Waitrose & Partners has 332 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 59 convenience branches, and another 27 shops at Welcome Break locations. Waitrose & Partners exports products to more than 50 countries worldwide and has 13 shops which operate under licence in the UAE. The retailer's omnichannel business includes the online grocery service,, as well as specialist online shops including for wine and for plants and flowers. 

About Lateral Flow Technology

  • Lateral flow devices do not require a laboratory to process the test. Swabbing and processing of these tests must currently be conducted at a dedicated testing site by trained personnel. The devices are designed to be intuitive and require minimal training to operate, and we are looking at how this test could be self-administered.   
  • Lateral flow tests are validated technology, it is safe, inexpensive and the results are trusted.   
  • Extensive clinical evaluation from Public Health England and the University of Oxford show Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) are accurate and sensitive to be deployed for mass testing, including for asymptomatic people.  


John Lewis Partnership

Sarah Henderson
Partner & Senior External Communications Manager
Tel: 07764 676036

NHS Test and Trace

For press enquiries about the national testing programme
Tel: 0207 972 3272