Tech focus shines through in new John Lewis concept store

John Lewis and Waitrose are strengthening their ties yet further via a new customer experience-focused concept store that will be launched in Southampton on 19 November.

The existing John Lewis at Southampton’s West Quay shopping centre will evolve to feature experts in cookery, gardening, beauty, fashion and consumer electronics, as well as play host to a farm shop and roof garden. It is all part of a wider move by the John Lewis Partnership (JLP) to seek new ways to revitalise the department store model.

Technology demos – including how to take the bests selfie and how to get the most out of the gadgets its sells – will play a central role in the new format.

It is being described by JLP as an “experience playground”, and the retailer said it will roll out the concept across the UK if the test at Southampton proves to be successful.

Personal styling and home consultations will be available throughout the store, while pop-up workshops focusing on subjects such as photography, coffee making, and modern calligraphy will appear over time.

John Lewis’s customer experience director, Peter Cross, commented: “Our goal is to offer customers unrivalled access to expertise and impartial advice in as many areas of their lives as we possibly can in a way that is uplifting and inspiring.

“We know that shopping for a new gadget or beauty product can be a daunting experience, with so much choice on offer. We want to help navigate customers through that.”

He added that the new concept shop is an example of how JLP is looking to reinvent the department store and stand out from competition in a market where sales have plateaued and companies such as House of Fraser and Debenhams have struggled in recent years.

Today’s announcement comes a week after the launch of John Lewis and Waitrose’s first joint Christmas advertising campaign, and off the back of last month’s decision to bring the two businesses together under one leadership team. More collaboration and consolidation between the department store and grocery arms is expected in due course.