This Christmas John Lewis’s omnichannel approach will trump the efforts of its pure-play rivals, group managing director Andy Street confidently predicts.
Last Christmas online sales shot up by 70%, and he believes its integrated online and in-store offer will see substantial improvement again for the festive season this year.
Speaking at the unveiling of its Christmas offer on July 1, Street revealed overall sales at the store group are up 8% so far this year and declared himself “quietly satisfied” with the performance. Fashion sales are up 8%, home 5% and electricals and home technology 12%. Fashion growth has been equally shared by menswear and womenswear, he said.
Store sales are up 2%, but the real driver is online, where the increase is in the order of 25%. Street stressed a fully integrated approach is the key.
“We patented click-and-collect and I wish we’d registered the name,” he joked. He highlighted the success of the recent opening of its York store – its 41st and, at 100,000 sq ft, its first “intermediate” store sitting between a full-line store and the smaller concept unveiled in Exeter in 2012.
In York, the click-and-collect area is signposted ‘See Click Wear’ – typical of the clear communication it brings to its omnichannel strategy.
The John Lewis Partnership has invested £100m in a second national distribution centre in Milton Keynes and a year ago successfully replatformed its website. Street said online sales of branded fashion have increased by 60% this year, with fashion overall – including own label – up 34%.
Mobile phone and tablet use is up 54% year on year, which Street said is “the new competitive landscape”.
He repeatedly stressed the store network was essential for the success of omnichannel performance. Over the next few years, full-line stores are planned for Birmingham, Leeds and Westfield White City in London. Chelmsford and Oxford will get “intermediate” stores and the smaller-format concept will go into Basingstoke and Horsham. An eighth opening is also planned, but Street declined to reveal its location.
“Shops are where people come to experience something different. They come to the stores to be social,” he said.
John Lewis will shortly open its first unit in a railway station. The store at London St Pancras will introduce the concept of “click-and-commute”, said Street. The cut-off time for next-day delivery will also be extended to 8pm.
Separately, in four weeks’ time Ed Connolly, John Lewis’s new buying director for fashion, will take up his role. He has been with the group for 10 years and is widely credited with leading its dominance in the electricals and home technology area, where he is currently buying director. He will work alongside buying and brand director Paula Nickolds, who has been with the company for 20 years.