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John Lewis shows the importance of the high street to its omnichannel strategy with new flagship Birmingham store

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John Lewis this week confirmed that the high street is still a crucial part of its omnichannel strategy when it opened its biggest store for four years, in Birmingham’s new Grand Central retail development close to New Street Station.

The department store group, judged an Elite retailer in Internet Retailing’s IRUK 500 research, said the opening of the £35m, 250,000 sq ft store showed its commitment to the British high street and, it said, “the importance of investing in physical shops as part of its growth strategy.”

The opening comes at a time when many retailers’ online growth has far outstripped that of store sales. But while commentators have previously forecast the death of the high street at the hands of the internet, the vast majority of sales still take place in stores. According to the Office for National Statistics’ latest Retail Sales survey, 12.2% of all UK retail transactions took place online in August. For department stores, the figure was 10.7%.

John Lewis says its new Birmingham store is the most innovative shop to date, featuring new concepts including the first John Lewis-branded spa, &Beauty. These, it said in its statement today “form part of the business’ ambition to expand the services and experiences within its shops and its commitment to investing in shops as part of an omnichannel approach.”

John Lewis managing director Andy Street said: “Today sends a clear message that John Lewis is firmly committed to the British high street and that physical shops remain as important to us as they do to our customers.”

He said the new regional flagship gave it an entry into a city John Lewis had “wanted to be part of for many years,” and that the store was “a bold expression of John Lewis in 2015.”

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