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Ed Connolly: John Lewis will offer ‘boutique experience’ with Found concept

John Lewis will debut Scandinavian, French and emerging British womenswear labels alongside an eclectic range of homeware and electricals under its new Found concept, which will launch at the Birmingham store when it opens in September.

Found by John Lewis

Found by John Lewis

“The Found concept is an acceleration of our desire to move into that more contemporary space and will act as a boutique within a department store,” fashion buying director Ed Connolly told Drapers. “It is all about dwell time and experience-based shopping.”

The 4,000 sq ft space will feature 27 labels new to John Lewis including Maison Scotch, BZR by Bruuns Bazaar, Supertrash, Samsøe & Samsøe, Numph, Des Petits Hauts, Waven, Penfield, Parka London and Urban Code, alongside existing brands such as Rains, Levi’s, Hygge by Mint Velvet and Minimum.

Footwear labels Asics, Onitsuka Tiger, Nike, Converse, Superga and Moonboot will be joined by LA-based hair accessories label Jane Tran and London-based phone case and bag brand Skinny Dip, beauty brands Cheeky Nails, Atelier and Dr Bronner, as well as gifts, technology and home décor products.

“We will be turning the stock faster and changing the brands so at any one time I would expect half of the brands to be new,” said Connolly, explaining that the new lines have been sourced by Found buyer Hayley Wilmington, who is referred to among the team as “coolhunter”.

“A Joe and the Juice café will provide the music and catering. It will be lit differently and merchandised across the categories, which is something very different for us,” he said.

John Lewis is known for its mature, affluent customer demographic, but Connolly said 31% of its customers are aged under 34 and over a third have a household income of under £30,000.

“The Found concept is to appeal to a more contemporary type of shopper which is not necessarily linked to age but more of the way that people are shopping now, that surprise and delight element and getting away from the part of the industry that piles up stock,” he said. “We have entry price points of £20 to £50 and up to £300 so it shows that it is not about life stage but for all price levels.”

Found’s partners, as John Lewis refers to its staff, will be dressed in “jeans and tops or the kind of thing you would expect to find in this area” and will work solely in that department, to “give it that boutique experience”.

The Birmingham store will also feature Denim Wardrobe by Trilogy, which was launched in the group’s Peter Jones store in January this year, and features denim labels such as J Brand, AG, Paige as well as womenswear labels including American Vintage, Pyrus and Helene Berman.

Connolly said the tie-up with the independent denim retailer has exceeded targets by 32%.

“We are now looking at whole store portfolio with a view to it appearing in more stores next year,” he said.

Found by John Lewis will be rolled out to the group’s Liverpool store in November as part of a £4.5m refurbishment for the fashion and beauty departments.

@Tara_Hounslea

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