Niche fashion retailer Reiss is to launch a joint venture in John Lewis stores in a bid to broaden its customer base.
A men’s and women’s department will open in John Lewis in Cambridge in November. A further three womenswear departments will open in Cribbs Causeway near Bristol, Cheadle near Manchester and Peter Jones in London’s Sloane Square next spring.
The trial is a significant step for Reiss, which has historically shied away from a major department store push. But the John Lewis tie-up will focus on smaller markets where Reiss does not already have a presence.
It is not a typical concession deal, as John Lewis will staff the Reiss departments and branding will be low key - a requirement by the department store for all its concessionaires.
The retailer has a small number of concessions in Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and in selected House of Fraser stores, but a presence in John Lewis would give the retailer access to a different and older customer base.
“We’re doing it to get into new areas,” said Reiss finance director Steven Downes. “The customer base of John Lewis is different to that of Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, so this will expose us to a market that wouldn’t normally shop in Reiss.”
Chief executive and founder David Reiss said John Lewis’s reputation and fashion-led repositioning made it ideal for the trial. “It is reinventing itself,” he said. “We’ve never been that proactive on concessions but we’ve always been very specific on where we want to be positioned; we see that as a very important part of our growth,” he said.
Reiss is also in talks with Harrods about a concession deal and has been approached by other international department stores about concession deals.