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Paula Nickolds, managing director, John Lewis

Paula Nickolds ploughed ahead with her own-brand strategy this year, overseeing the launch of John Lewis & Partners – an 800-piece womenswear collection, which she said was its “most significant fashion investment to date”.

Paula Nickolds

A menswear range will follow in spring 19.

Fashion sales grew 1.2% year on year in the six months to 28 July. Womenswear sales rose 4.1% and own-brand sales leapt by 12.2%. 

Nickolds plans to grow the proportion of own-brand and exclusive product from 30% of sales to 50% over the next three years. 

Stores also underwent a revamp. Nickolds forged on with her experiential crusade, testing new services such as classes, personal styling and a front-of-house concierge in 15 branches.

It also plans to open further rooftop bars and pop-up cinemas in various locations. 

In a highly promotional retail market, John Lewis’s “never knowingly undersold” price promise hit its bottom line – profits before tax and exceptional items at the group, which includes supermarket Waitrose, fell 98.8% to £1.2m in the half-year. However, with its own-brand ambitions, the retailer is successfully differentiating its offer from department store rivals. 



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