LONDON (Reuters) - John Lewis, Britain's biggest department store group, will this month launch a customer reward card, seeking to encourage loyalty and gather more data on its shoppers in exchange for benefits such as free tea and cake.
The 149-year-old firm, whose worker co-ownership business model has been lauded by Prime Minister David Cameron, has traditionally been seen as a bellwether retailer but has been outperforming the wider retail market for about three years.
Loyalty cards, pioneered by Tesco's Clubcard two decades ago, are widespread throughout Britain's retail sector as they allow store groups to garner information on shoppers' likes and dislikes.
But unlike schemes run by many other chains, the "my John Lewis" card will tailor rewards to customers' interests, rather than points-based discounts in store.
John Lewis has a longstanding price promise that it is "never knowingly undersold".
From October 30 customers will be able to use the cards in John Lewis's 39 UK shops and online.
Customer rewards will include free tea and cake in John Lewis's restaurants each month, entry into regular prize draws every time they shop, invitations to exclusive local events, previews and other personalised incentives.
"We consciously decided not to develop a scheme based on collecting points, and instead offer more immediate rewards, previews and events," said Chris Bates, head of customer marketing.
The John Lewis Partnership also owns upmarket grocer Waitrose.
The "my John Lewis" launch follows the success of Waitrose's "my Waitrose" loyalty card, launched in 2011, which, amongst other benefits, allows holders a daily free tea or coffee.
(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Mark Potter)