John Lewis and Waitrose are launching a consumer-centric concept shop at the partnership’s Southampton store, featuring a team of experts in cookery, gardening, beauty and gadgets.
“Experience playgrounds” will take centre stage on every floor of the store, which brings John Lewis and Waitrose closer together.
Highlights include a new farm shop, roof garden and cafe selling produce from the Partnership’s Leckford Estate, the first Waitrose Cookery School in a John Lewis store, “stay and play” gadget areas, beauty and fashion gift experiences including a personal styling package with blow dry, manicure and brow treatment, and specialist gardening talks and home consultations about garden redesign.
If successful, the model could be rolled out across the country.
The store will also host a range of pop-up workshops offering shoppers the opportunity to learn a new skill including photography courses, wreath-making and modern calligraphy.
Shoppers can book time with experts and buy gift experience packages at the Southampton Experience Desk in store.
Peter Cross, customer experience director at John Lewis & Partners, said: “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. Our new concept shop is an example of how we’re reinventing the department store of the future to make us stand out from the competition.”
The new concept comes as John Lewis and Waitrose move towards operating as a single business. From 3 February 2020 the two businesses will no longer operate as two separate business units. The partnership said the move will “enable a faster delivery of better products and services for customers” and is expected to lead to an overall cost saving of around £100m over time. Around 75 roles from the current total of 225 senior management positions will be cut at the partnership. The two brands will continue to serve customers online and in store, but they will now be managed by a single executive team responsible for the partnership’s business strategy and performance.