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John Lewis creates new role to manage in-store experience

John Lewis will hire a manager of brand experience for its new Oxford store, which is due to open in October. 

The newly created role is part of the department store chain’s ongoing efforts to improve the customer experience in stores, in a bid to boost footfall.

The Oxford store, which anchors the new Westgate shopping centre in Oxford, will run an event on every day of the year, said John Lewis managing director Paula Nickolds.

She also revealed that all employees at the new store will be sent to drama school before it opens to boost their confidence, an initiative that may be rolled out nationwide.

The Oxford store will devote 20% of retail space to services and will have a concierge to greet customers and help them book appointments.

The sale of big ticket items so far this year had slowed, according to Nickolds, as a result of macro conditions including political uncertainty and the terror attacks in London and Manchester. However, beauty and womenswear sales are up 7% and 4% respectively.

“We are 1.5% up for the year to date [across John Lewis] but if you look at spontaneous categories, the self-treat that we may have called ‘the lipstick effect’ back in the recession, we are ahead of the market.”

Nickolds said the department store chain will continue to focus on its in-house brands and exclusive brand collaborations this autumn with a new campaign called Only Here, following the success of its own fashion labels Modern Rarity and And/Or.

On fashion John Lewis is aiming to make £500m of sales from own brand labels as part of a wider strategy to generate 50% of total sales from own brand or exclusive products.

This autumn more than 60 brands are teaming up with the department store to create limited edition products, including a collaboration between Modern Rarity and Eudon Choi on a capsule collection of coats.


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