John Lewis (department store)

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John Lewis plc
Public limited company
Industry Retail
Founded 1864; 154 years ago (1864)
Founder John Lewis
Headquarters London, SW
United Kingdom
Number of locations
50 stores- incl. Swindon Home Outlet (2017)[1]
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
Paula Nickolds (Managing Director)
Bérangère Michel (Finance Director)
Revenue Increase £3.78 billion (2017)[1]
Decrease £243.2 million (2017)[1]
Number of employees
38,100 (2017)[2]
Parent John Lewis Partnership

'John Lewis is a chain of high-end department stores operating throughout the United Kingdom. The chain is owned by the John Lewis Partnership, which was created alongside the first store in the mid-1800s. The first John Lewis store was opened in 1864 in Oxford Street, London. The chain's slogan is "Never Knowingly Undersold" which has been in use since 1925.[3]

There are 49 stores throughout England, Scotland and Wales, including 12 "At Home" stores, and "flexible format" stores in Exeter and York. The first John Lewis concession opened in New South Wales, Australia in November 2016.

On 1 January 2008, the Oxford Street store was awarded a Royal Warrant from Her Majesty the Queen as: "suppliers of haberdashery and household goods".[4] John Lewis Reading is also the holder of a Royal Warrant from the Queen in 2007 as suppliers of household and fancy goods.[5]

The John Lewis Christmas advert was first launched in 2007 and it has since become something of an annual tradition in British culture,[6][7] and one of the signals that the countdown to Christmas has begun in the UK.[8][9][10]


Early history

John Lewis store in Liverpool.

The flagship store on Oxford Street began as a drapery shop, opened by John Lewis in 1864. In 1905 Lewis acquired a second store, Peter Jones in Sloane Square, London. His eldest son, John Spedan Lewis, began the John Lewis Partnership in 1920 after thinking up the idea during his days in charge of Peter Jones. John Spedan Lewis also thought up the idea of the Gazette, the partnership's in-house magazine, first published in 1918.

In 1933 the partnership purchased its first store outside London, the long established Jessop & Son in Nottingham. Jessops only rebranded itself as John Lewis on 27 October 2002. In 1940 the partnership bought Selfridge Provincial Stores. This group of sixteen suburban and provincial department stores included Cole Brothers, Sheffield; George Henry Lee, Liverpool; Robert Sayle, Cambridge; and Trewin Brothers, Watford; all of which continue to trade today but are now re-branded as John Lewis.

In 1949, it was reported that London branches included Peter Jones, John Barnes (now a branch of Waitrose), John Pound and Bon Marche. The "provincial branches" were Robert Sayle, of Cambridge and Peterborough, Tyrrell & Green, of Southampton and Lance & Lance of Weston-super-Mare. They also had "silk shops" at Edinburgh, Hull and Newcastle upon Tyne.[11]

In 1953 the renowned Reading department store Heelas became part of the John Lewis group and remained named as such until 2001 when it adopted the John Lewis name. Also in 1953 the partnership bought Herbert Parkinson, a textile manufacturer, a business which still makes duvets, pillows and furnishings for John Lewis.[12]

Recent history

John Lewis store in Cardiff.

The first John Lewis store constructed as part of a shopping centre was the relocated Jessops, in Nottingham, which has been a feature of the Victoria Centre since it opened in 1972. The announcement of an anchor tenant such as John Lewis contributes to the certainty of developers' proposals, and so attracts other retailers to the area.

Before the relaxation of UK Sunday trading laws in 1994, John Lewis stores closed on Mondays to allow staff a full two-day "weekend".

The John Lewis Partnership were the first department store group in the UK to adopt central buying, launching the 'Jonell(e)' name for own brand merchandise in 1937. That brand name has gradually been replaced with the 'John Lewis' name since 2001. Additional own brands include Collection by John Lewis as well as John Lewis & Co. and Collection Weekend by John Lewis. A selection of Waitrose own brand products, such as cleaning materials and party stationery, are also available from John Lewis.

Many stores acquired by the Partnership retained their original names for many years, including Tyrrell & Green in Southampton until 2000,[13] Bonds in Norwich until 2001, Trewins in Watford until 2001, Jessops in Nottingham (its first store outside London) until 2002,[14] Bainbridge's in Newcastle until 2002, Robert Sayle in Cambridge[15] and Cole Brothers in Sheffield until 2002. All have now been rebranded John Lewis, with the exception of Peter Jones in south west London and Knight & Lee in Southsea.

Investment has been made across the group over recent years. This has included the renovation of Peter Jones at a cost of £107 million, completed in 2004.[16] The original Oxford Street shop is still the flagship and largest branch in the partnership. A complete refurbishment of the building was completed in late 2007 at a cost of £60 million. This introduced the new 'Place To Eat' restaurant and a brasserie and bistro in the store. A 'John Lewis Food Hall from Waitrose' opened in the shop's basement on 3 October 2007. A second Food Hall opened at the John Lewis Bluewater store on 6 August 2009.


Department stores

The first branch of John Lewis in Leeds (opened in October 2016) under construction in 2015.

As of October 2017, the John Lewis Partnership operated 49 John Lewis stores throughout England, Wales and Scotland.[17] The Oxford Street store, originally opened in 1864, is the largest operated by the Partnership. 35 of the stores are traditional department stores and 12 are 'John Lewis at home' stores.

John Lewis at home

In 2009, John Lewis announced a new format of "John Lewis at home" stores, the first of which opened in Poole in October 2009. The "at home" stores are located within pre-existing shopping regions, and focus on Electrical, Home and Technology products. The store in Poole opened on 22 October 2009 at the former Courts site at the Commerce Centre retail park in Branksome. Following the early success of the Poole "at home" store, five further "at homes" opened in 2010/11 in areas outside of the catchment of the traditional John Lewis stores, including Croydon, Tunbridge Wells, Tamworth, Chester and Swindon. Further stores in Newbury and Chichester, West Sussex, opened in Spring 2012, with Ipswich following in November 2012.[18] On Thursday 17 June 2015, a new John Lewis at Home store opened in Horsham, West Sussex along with a branch of Waitrose that relocated from the town centre.[19]

Airport store

In the summer of 2014, John Lewis opened a small store airside in the newly rebuilt Terminal 2 at London Heathrow Airport. [20][21]


On 17 November 2016, John Lewis opened their first concession store within a Myer department store in New South Wales, Australia. This is the first of ca. 5-10 John Lewis concessions to be opened in Myer stores in Australia within the following 12 months. The merchandise focus will be on homewares with manchester (as bedding, linens and towels are called in Australia) being manufactured to Australian

Recent developments

In June 2004, John Lewis announced plans to open its first store in Northern Ireland at the Sprucefield Park development, the province's largest out of town shopping centre, located outside Lisburn and 10 miles (16 km) from Belfast. The application was approved in June 2005 and the opening of the new store was scheduled for 2008. This decision was disputed, and was taken to the High Court, where it was reversed.

In 2008, a controversy over the declaration of expenses by UK members of parliament revealed that Parliamentary authorities were using information from John Lewis – the "John Lewis list" – as a guide to the maximum costs refundable to MPs when equipping London pieds à terre at public expense.

The first John Lewis store in Birmingham opened in 2015

On 6 November 2008, it was announced that John Lewis would open their first department store outside the UK in Dublin, Ireland. Subject to planning permission, the shop will be built on O'Connell Street. The centre is being developed by Chartered Land and will be part of the largest retail centre in Ireland. As of January 2014 the €1.2 billion development is on hold and John Lewis are still seeking a location in Northern Ireland for a Flagship department store.[22]

Westfield Stratford City

The Cardiff store opened in September 2009 as part of the Phase 2 development of St David's Centre. The Cardiff branch is also the Partnership's only department store in Wales.[23][24] Stratford opened in 2011 together with a new Waitrose supermarket. The new shops will anchor the Westfield Stratford City development alongside the Olympic Park in east London.

In February 2011, it was announced that John Lewis was appointed as the Official Department Store provider for the London 2012 Olympic Games. As part of the deal, John Lewis stores became key retail outlets for official London 2012 merchandise.[25]

Also in February 2011, John Lewis announced it is to open a 250,000-square-foot (23,000 m2) department store in Birmingham city centre in 2014. The completion date of 2014 was pushed back to Autumn 2015 due to complications regarding the construction of the centre, including issues relating to car parks and taxi ranks. With the Grand Central leasing director Keith Stone stating the date was pushed back to ensure a better customer experience.[26] The store opened on 24 September 2015 and is the flagship store for the £100 million development and part of the new Grand Central shopping centre built on the south side of a redeveloped Birmingham New Street railway station.

In November 2011, it was announced John Lewis has shelved plans for a new store in Preston, Lancashire as part of the Tithebarn Project which has now been drastically scaled down. The current economic climate was cited as a key factor in their decision.[27]

Leeds John Lewis at Victoria Gate

It was announced that John Lewis would be the anchor tenant of a new development scheme in Leeds. The Eastgate Quarters scheme was approved in July 2011, since renamed Victoria Gate the site guides shoppers from central Leeds to John Lewis via a luxury arcade continuing (over Vicar Lane) from the existing Victoria Quarter. John Lewis had been looking for a site in Leeds for a while, even considering the Headingley cricket ground, and are happy they are at long last filling a major regional gap.[28] The veneer of the Leeds development references the diagonal lines of the John Lewis motif.

John Lewis has now been announced as an anchor to the £1bn extension of Westfield London in Shepherd's Bush.[29][30] The retailer is also looking at further location possibilities in Guildford. It is also thought that the retailer is finally in talks to open a store in central Manchester as part of the Ramada development.

John Lewis started a trial in 2013 product-labelling the lifetime electricity costs on the household goods.[31] John Lewis opened a store as the showpiece of the Bond Street retail development in the cathedral city of Chelmsford, Essex in 2016. In October 2017, the remodelled and extended Westgate Shopping Centre reopened in the medieval university city of Oxford, with a large John Lewis is the development's anchor store.

In November 2016, John Lewis initiated their internal resource-led ‘Project ā’ to increase profitability across several product ranges. Currently the project efforts are focused on their Baby & Child range.

Visual identity

John Lewis graphic identity, 1990

The graphic identity, which has at its core the distinctive diagonal motif, was created in 1990 by John Lloyd and Jim Northover of the British design consultancy, Lloyd Northover. In 2000, it was given a minor refresh by London design consultancy Pentagram.[32]

Lines at Leeds John Lewis

The line motif appears to be reflected in the façade of the Leeds store.

Christmas advertising

Since 2007 John Lewis has become known for producing memorable Christmas television adverts, which have gained heavy exposure on social media.[33][34] Some of the more prominent campaigns are The Bear and the Hare, Monty's Christmas and Man on the Moon.[34] The adverts, which typically rely on emotional content have become something of an annual tradition in the UK[35] and the music used in the campaigns has reached high positions in the UK Singles Chart.[36]

Future developments

In July 2011, John Lewis announced that it would be opening 10 new stores under a new smaller format in city centre locations over the next five years. The new smaller format department stores will hold John Lewis's core lines of Home, Electrical and Fashions, all tailored to the local area. However, the full line will still be available through online terminals within the store, as well as the "click and collect" service already available within other branches. With the first branch opening in Exeter on 12 October 2012, Andrea O'Donnell, commercial director, said the move would help John Lewis double its turnover from £3bn ($4.89bn) to £6bn over the next 10 years[37]

John Lewis retain long-held plans to open a department store in Manchester city centre ever since the regeneration of the city centre following the 1996 Manchester bombing, but have not found a suitable site.[38] They have countered the lack of city centre store by opening two large stores in Greater Manchester: Cheadle in 2000 and the Trafford Centre in 2005.[39]

John Lewis is planned to be the anchor to the £1bn extension of Westfield London in Shepherd's Bush.[29][30]

In September 2015, John Lewis purchased the building 129-133 North Street, Brighton (currently occupied by Boots and other shops).[40] In September 2016, John Lewis unveiled its plans for the store which was expected to open in late 2018 until plans for the store were scrapped in May 2017.[41]

Plans have been circulating since the early 2000s for a new large store in Sheffield to replace the current store. The new store was to be included within the Sevenstone development which has since been cancelled. A new store may however be constructed as part of the Sheffield Retail Quarter which is scheduled to be completed by 2022, as of August 2017 these plans haven't been confirmed but heavily rumoured.

Former department stores

Pratts, Streatham
  • John Barnes, Finchley Road, London – closed 1981, building now occupied by Waitrose (the supermarket division of the John Lewis Partnership)
  • Blinkhorn & Son, Gloucester – sold 1953 to Woolworths
  • Blinkhorn & Son, Stroud – sold 1953 to Woolworths
  • Bon Marché, Brixton, London – closed 1975
  • Bon Marché, Tunbridge Wells – sold 1953
  • Buckleys, Harrogate – sold 1953 to Busbys of Bradford
  • A H Bull, Reading – incorporated into Heelas & Co. Premises sold 1953 to Littlewoods chain stores
  • Caleys, Windsor – closed 2006
  • Daniel Neal, Portman Square, London – closed 1963
  • Daniel Neal, Kensington, London – closed 1964
  • Daniel Neal, Bournemouth – closed 1977
  • Daniel Neal, Cheltenham – closed 1977
  • Holdrons, Peckham, London – sold 1948
  • Jones Brothers, Holloway Road, London – closed 1990, part of Jones Brothers site now occupied by Waitrose
  • Lance & Lance, Weston-Super-Mare – closed 1956
  • Pratts, Streatham, London – closed 1990
  • Quin & Axten, Brixton, London – sold 1949
  • Robert Sayle Peterborough (formerly Thomsons), Peterborough – closed 1956
  • Vinalls, Eastbourne – sold 1953 to McCartney Stewart

The only remaining stores of the sixteen the John Lewis Partnership acquired from Selfridge Provincial Stores are thus those in Sheffield, Liverpool, Cambridge and Watford (all of which have been relocated to new buildings and rebranded as 'John Lewis' since acquisition).


  1. ^ a b c "Annual Report and Accounts 2017" (PDF). John Lewis Partnership plc. Retrieved 10 August 2017. 
  2. ^ "John Lewis opening and closing times". Timeo. Retrieved 10 August 2017. 
  3. ^ "Customer Service". John Lewis Partnership. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  4. ^ Royal Warrant Directory – John Lewis Archived 15 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "John Lewis awarded Royal Warrant". John Lewis Partnership. Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  6. ^ Wallop, Harry (5 November 2014). "John Lewis adverts from Christmas past". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  7. ^ "What is the song in the John Lewis Christmas ad this year and who sings it?". Plymouth Herald. 30 November 2016. Archived from the original on 20 October 2016. 
  8. ^ Stone, Jason (12 November 2013). "John Lewis Christmas ads: how they evolved from 2007 to 2013". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  9. ^ Sherwin, Adam (6 November 2014). "John Lewis Christmas advert: It's sickly, sweet and surprisingly potent". The Independent. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  10. ^ Wallop, Harry (6 November 2014). "It's funny how John Lewis Christmas Advert is now part of our Christmas countdown". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  11. ^ "Big stores' right to ban extremists". Hartlepool Mail. 19 November 1949 – via British Newspaper Archive. 
  12. ^ "Herbert Parkinson History". Archived from the original on 26 March 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  13. ^ "Tyrrell & Green". Daily Echo. 
  14. ^ "BBC – Nottingham Features – Jessops' history in pictures". BBC. 
  15. ^ "John Lewis to lose famous names". Daily Mail. 26 September 2000. 
  16. ^ Walsh, Fiona. "Peter John revamp signs off Pentegram concept". Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  17. ^ "Department Stores". John Lewis. Retrieved 29 September 2012. 
  18. ^ "John Lewis Exeter now open". John Lewis Partnership. Archived from the original on 14 November 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  19. ^ "John Lewis and Waitrose store opens in Horsham". West Sussex County Times. 
  20. ^ "Latest News from Heathrow Terminal 2: John Lewis to open first airport store". 2 July 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  21. ^ "John Lewis to open at Heathrow's Terminal 2". John Lewis Partnership. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  22. ^ "John Lewis Partnership website – Dublin store". Archived from the original on 30 March 2009. Retrieved 6 November 2008. 
  23. ^ "John Lewis website – Cardiff store". Retrieved 3 August 2008. 
  24. ^ "Store wars as John Lewis opens". BBC News. 24 September 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  25. ^ "John Lewis to sponsor London 2012 Olympics". Marketing Magazine. 
  26. ^ "Birmingham New Street scheme Grand Central unveils retail signings as it delays opening date". 
  27. ^ "John Lewis pull out of Preston revamp". Lancashire Evening Post. 17 November 2011. 
  28. ^ "Department Stores – New shops: Leeds". John Lewis. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  29. ^ a b "New shops : Westfield London Expansion Plans". Westfield. 11 March 2014. Archived from the original on 18 April 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  30. ^ a b "John Lewis to open Westfield London store". The Daily Telegraph. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  31. ^ John Lewis puts lifetime electricity cost on product labelsGovernment-backed scheme aims to show people how energy efficient appliances can help them save on energy bills The Guardian 9 September 2013
  32. ^ Mills, Lauren (29 October 2000). "John Lewis hires image maker for new look". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  33. ^ Bold, Ben (6 November 2015). "John Lewis Christmas ads 2007 to 2015: from humble roots to national event". Marketing Magazine. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  34. ^ a b Regev, Dana (8 November 2015). "The Christmas commercials that turned into a smash hit". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  35. ^ Wallop, Harry (6 November 2014). "It's funny how John Lewis Christmas Advert is now part of our Christmas countdown". The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  36. ^ Welsh, Daniel (6 November 2014). "John Lewis Christmas advert 2014: Best and Funniest Twitter Reactions to #MontyThePenguin". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  37. ^ Felsted, Andrea (22 July 2011). "John Lewis to open 10 new stores". Financial Times. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  38. ^ "The history of John Lewis Cheadle". John Lewis. Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  39. ^ Linton, Deborah (27 April 2011). "John Lewis searching for site to open major store in Manchester". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  40. ^ "John Lewis buys prime location in the heart of Brighton city centre". The Argus. 
  41. ^ "John Lewis unveils flagship plans for new Sussex store". The Argus. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Media related to John Lewis (department store) at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 51°29′49″N 0°08′40″W / 51.497°N 0.14434°W / 51.497; -0.14434

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