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John Lewis plans 'high street in a store'

John Lewis, Britain’s biggest department store chain, plans to recreate the high street in its shops by introducing a host of services including barbers, opticians, bureaux de change, restaurants – even post offices.

Retail director Andrew Murphy said he had identified 700,000 sq ft of space in John Lewis’s 30 department stores in preparation for the plan.

That is the equivalent to its three biggest stores including Oxford Street in London, which is the largest at 285,000 sq ft.

The development and growth of John Lewis is much-admired by retail rivals. But Murphy said it was crucial to give shoppers more reasons to visit stores and encourage them to spend more time in them.

‘Keeping our shops enjoyable places to be is an incredibly important part of our strategy. But the John Lewis brand is not magic dust. We have to carefully consider what the brand stands for and where we take this plan,’ he said.

The extra space includes areas behind stores that have been released in recent years as it centralised functions such as human resources, accounts and local call centres.

The chain, which also has ten John Lewis At Home stores, this week launched the first of a number of food service concessions with the opening of fashionable Copenhagen-based sandwich bar chain Joe & The Juice in its Solihull shop.

Next year Hotel Chocolat’s cocoa-themed restaurants will open in the Edinburgh and York stores.

Upmarket travel agent Kuoni is also joining in, and future services being looked at include 3D printing.

The ‘Store of the Future’ project is billed as a strategic vision looking as far ahead as 2020. It is being developed hand-in-hand with investment in the online business which currently accounts for more than a quarter of sales.

Robert Clark, an analyst at Retail Knowledge Bank, said: ‘This is a back-to-basics approach to the department store model and is returning to a traditional approach that was common in the first half of last century when everything was under one roof.’

Source : Neil Craven -

01 December 2013
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