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John Lewis announces latest sites for ‘at home’ format

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Department store and multichannel retailer John Lewis has announced two more openings for its ‘at home’ shops, the format that brings a department store range onto the salesfloor of a smaller shop through in-store terminals.

The opening of its Swindon and Tunbridge Wells shops this autumn will bring the total number of the new format shops to four, following the opening of the first in Poole last October and this summer’s scheduled launch in Croydon.

They follow the success of the Poole store in bringing the John Lewis brand to new customers, said Tim Harrison, head of format development at John Lewis. “We’ve learnt a lot from our Poole opening,” he said, “and our research has shown that the new ‘at home’ shop has helped our business expand its customer base. We have also shown our ability to deliver a high level of customer service in a smaller format, which is the ultimate test.”

The shops, located in towns and cities where John Lewis doesn’t have department stores, stock its range of furniture and furnishings alongside electricals and home technology. But through in-store terminals customers can also access a wider department store range, including fashion, nursery and beauty, which can be ordered for home delivery or next day collection at the shop.

John Lewis managing director Andy Street said: “We’ll continue to trial our John Lewis at home format in 2010 as we believe there is a really strong opportunity to grow our business in the home and electricals sector. We know our competitors have a much higher level of coverage in the UK and our smaller format shops will give our customers convenient access to John Lewis products.”

Our view: Customers are evidently responding to the chance to buy John Lewis direct in their local town, where there isn’t a department store available. This seems to prove that the strategy of asking customers what they want to see and then delivering it is working. It’s not rocket science, but it’s also by no means universal.

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