John Lewis is launching a new ‘bespoke’ store that it says will bring its full selection to more towns and cities across the UK, stimulating online sales in those areas at the same time.
Each of the new flexible format stores, announced today, will be tailored to suit individual locations, showcasing products of particular relevance to the local audience, while also complemented by its online channel and harnessing the convenience of its multichannel offering. The first will open in Exeter city centre next year and will feature fashion, home and consumer electronics.
The company says it has found at least 10 locations across the UK which can support this new kind of store, whose shops will be between 65,000sq ft and 100,000sq ft. The new flexible format branches will sit between John Lewis’ department stores (around 132,000 sq ft) and its ‘at home’ format (around 40,000sq ft), which brings the full range of John Lewis goods into homewares-focused stores through catalogues, internet kiosks and delivery to store.
Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, says shops remain key for John Lewis sales, both on and offline. “John Lewis is committed to continuing to invest in ‘bricks and mortar’, particularly as we know that new shops stimulate our brand presence and online sales in areas where we trade,” he said. He added: "There is a huge potential, and a clear demand from customers, for John Lewis to expand into more key locations in the UK. This new flexible approach to the size of our shops allows us to forge ahead with our growth plans to introduce John Lewis branches and our full-line assortment to cities and towns where we have long wanted to have a presence."
He said around 3,000 new jobs would be created through the new store format programme, starting with 300 at the Exeter branch. There will also be 10 'at home' stores open by the end of 2012, including one in Ashford, Kent, opening next autumn, while more full-size department stores are also planned.
Tim Harrison, head of format development for John Lewis, said the new flexible department store format would allow the company to move into developments it would previously not have seen as viable. “Crucially,” he said, “our new approach will mean that the full John Lewis product assortment will be available to customers in many more towns and cities across the UK."