Paula Nickolds pressed on with her own-brand strategy this year, overseeing the launch of John Lewis & Partners – an 800-piece womenswear collection, which she said was its “most significant fashion investment to date”. A menswear range will follow in spring 19.
Fashion sales grew 1.2% year on year in the six months to 28 July. Womenswear sales rose 4.1% and own-brand leapt by 12.2%.
Nickolds plans to grow the proportion of own-brand and exclusive product from 30% of sales to 50% over the next three years.
Stores also underwent a revamp. Nickolds forged ahead with her experiential crusade, testing new services such as classes, personal styling and a front-of-house concierge in 15 branches. It also plans to open further rooftop bars and pop-up cinemas in various locations.
In a highly promotional retail market, John Lewis’s “never knowingly undersold” price promise hit its bottom line – profits before tax and exceptional items at the group, which includes supermarket Waitrose & Partners, fell 98.8% to £1.2m in the half-year. However, with its own-brand ambitions, the retailer is successfully differentiating its offer from department store rivals.