In March 2017 Ethical Consumer found the boycott call of Duchy Original products to still be active on Viva!'s and Animal Aid's websites.
Viva! and Animal Aid websites stated that they had called a boycott of Duchy Originials products over Prince Charles' (the founder of Duchy Originals) call for a cull of grey squirrels in Cornwall. Animal Aid and Viva! believed that the Prince’s campaign to eradicate grey squirrels – through poisoning, shooting or bludgeoning them to death in a sack – was ‘irrational, inhumane and doomed to fail’, and called for everyone who opposed animal cruelty to boycott the Prince’s Duchy Originals range of products in protest.
The Duchy brand is a partnership between the Princes Charities Foundation and Waitrose, under the brand name Waitrose Duchy Organic. Therefore Waitrose lost marks for having a strategic partnership with a company that is the subject of a boycott call.

An email to Justin Kerswell at Viva! dated 3rd April 2017 confirmed thgat the boycvott was no longer active.

Reference:

Duchy Originals boycott www.viva.org.uk (2 March 2017)

In January 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Waitrose's website which stated "No Waitrose food is genetically modified - all food and ingredients are from conventional or organic crops. Our internal systems and external verification platforms track the use of soya as ingredients in own label products to ensure they come from a non GM source.
All the animals that supply our organic meat, eggs and milk are fed diets containing non-GM protein. In our non-organic ranges, we make every effort to use non GM animal feed in close collaboration with our suppliers."

"In a first for a UK retailer, from October 2016, our pig supply chain began sourcing soy from the Danube region in Europe."

"We ... work with our suppliers, and other partners, to explore alternative proteins for animal feed.
...we recently completed a five-year Forage Protein Project which looked at how forage proteins (such as chicory, lucerne and red and white clover) could be used as alternatives to soya.
...Waitrose has also participated in a four-year Innovate UK funded ‘Optibean’ project looking into using faba beans as a potential replacement for soya in animal feed."

Its work to source non-GM feed was commendable. However, as the company could not guarantee that it did not use some GM feed in its animal feed it lost half a mark under Controversial Technologies.

Reference:

Waitrose website (13 January 2020)

In January 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed John Lewis's website for the company's policy on cotton sourcing and accessed a 2018/19 sustainability report.

The company stated that John Lewis brand sourced 25% of its cotton from sustainable sources and that Waitrose sourced 37%. The company had targets to source 50% and 100% sustainable cotton respectively by 2020.

According to Anti-Slavery international (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were two of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, and every year their governments forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton. Due to the high proportion of cotton likely to have come from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and the prevalence of forced labour in its production, the company lost half a mark in the Workers Rights category. Although Waitrose had banned use of cotton from Uzbekistan. A questionnaire response from John Lewis in July 2019 stated that it did have a policy against sourcing from Uzbekistan and that it was the suppliers responsibility to uphold this. Niether mentioned Turkmenistan.

The Organic Trade Association website, www.ota.com, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales. Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in cotton production worldwide the company lost half a mark in the Pollution & Toxics category.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 80% of cotton grown in 2017. Due to the prevalence of GM cotton in cotton supply chains and the lack of any evidence that the company avoided it, it was assumed that some of the company's cotton products contained some GM material. As a result it lost half a mark under the Controversial Technology category.

Overall the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for its cotton sourcing policy.

Reference:

Corporate Responsibilty Report 2018/19 (April 2019)

In January 2020 Ethical Consumer downloaded John Lewis's 2019 Annual Report. This stated that in the year 2017/18 the chairman was paid £1,411,000 and that in 2018/19 he was paid £1,444,000.

Ethical Consumer considered annual remuneration over £1,000,000 to be excessive and, as a result, John Lewis lost half a mark in the Antisocial Finance category.

Reference:

Annual Report 2019 (April 2019)

In January 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the John Lewis Partnership Annual Report 2019. This contained a list of the company's subsidiaries. These included:

- Admiral Park Retail Management Limited, incorporated in Guernsey
- JLP Insurance Limited, incorporated in Guernsey

Both of these companies were considered high risk of being used for tax avoidance, as they were listed as providing 'Insurance' and 'Management Services' based in tax havens.

However, in August 2019 Ethical Consumer received an email from John Lewis which clarified the company's tax policy:

"A John Lewis Partnership spokesperson said: “Paying taxes arising from our activities is an important part of how we contribute to the societies in which we operate. As such, we do not use tax avoidance strategies. Our 2019 Annual Report and Accounts lists the subsidiaries which contribute to the overall profitability of the Partnership. We also submit a country by country report to HMRC.

Admiral Park Retail Management Limited, incorporated in Guernsey, is a property holding company which owns the freehold of the Admiral Park Waitrose store site in Guernsey. The entity does not provide management services and has no revenue. JLP Insurance Limited operates in Guernsey because of the self- insurance expertise they have on the island and any profits it makes are entirely taxable in the UK through the Controlled Foreign Company regime.”

Additional background on contributing to the UK tax system (see page 21 of the 2019 Annual Report & Accounts)

In 2018/19 the Partnership paid taxes of £379m. Key contributions were:

- Business rates: £179m

- Employer NICs: £118m

- Corporation tax: £33m"

The above statement was considered an adequate explaination of why the comany owned the subsidiaries considered by Ethical Consumer to be high-risk and located in juristictions of Ethical Consumer's list of tax havens at the time of writing.

One other subsidiary were listed in Guernsey and one in Jersey, however, these were listed as 'food retailing' and the company had Waitrose food retail shops in these jurisdictions. Although these were located in territories on Ethical Consumer's list of tax havens, they were considered to be low risk of being used for tax avoidance purposes as they were assumed to be serving the local population.

As a result, the company did not lost any marks for likely use of tax avoidance strategies.

Reference:

Email - John Lewis tax statement (2 August 2019)