New Retail: In Conversation With The John Lewis Partnership
Ahead of announcing its full year results on March 10th, the John Lewis Partnership hosted a drinks reception for journalists and analysts at its Victoria House offices in London this week, there to unveil its spring / summer collections.
Dame Sharon White was present along with her leadership team, and from speaking with them, they were clearly proud of what they were able to share with us.
It’s no secret that White’s tenure as Chairman at the Partnership has been under a certain amount of scrutiny these past couple of years.
The bold plan for the Partnership which she shared in October 2020 merely served to heighten the interest. More than a few eyebrows being raised at the prospect of the Partnership moving into the social housing market and selling financial services. And when the Anyday concept was launched in April last year, it had something of a lukewarm reception in some quarters.
We’ve seen five years of change in the past five months and Waitrose and John Lewis have responded with great agility. Our plan means the John Lewis Partnership will thrive for the next century, as it has the last
Sharon White, Chairman John Lewis Partnership
Fast forward to this week in London and the opportunity to take a fresh look in the context of today’s challenges, reveals a rather different picture.
Because in amongst the Laura Ashley meets Liberty inspired outfits and Anyday furniture, a realisation slowly began to dawn.
Today, we can’t help but view practically everything through a post-pandemic, cost of living lens, which is maddeningly opaque at the best of times.
However, one thing that is becoming clear, is that the very essence of what it means to be a retailer is being transformed in front of our very eyes. New retail will be full of purpose, of values, and of community. And John Lewis now appears perfectly placed to lead that transformation.
No-one could have predicted the apocalyptic impact on the world which the crisis in Ukraine is creating, with shockwaves being felt in all parts of the economy, however, one outcome from this is that it is creating something of a void which retail can fill.
More than ever, retailers need their customers and that is now reciprocated many times over. Whether it be students or first time buyers shopping at Anyday or eating recycled food (yes, we were served canapes made from recycled food, a personal first for me) those who are able to tune in to the particular consumer zeitgeist at any given moment, are the ones most likely to succeed.
We’re a Partnership for positive change, improving lives and building a more sustainable future. We’ll grow in areas where these are important to our customers, like rental, recycling, savings, insurance and private rented and social housing
From its back to home ‘natural scandi’ home office range to its ‘modern country cosy and comfortable living’ to its ‘new heirloom’ in-house designed furniture and homewares, John Lewis is creating a new feel.
And the canapes? I didn’t dare ask, but they tasted rather good.
Andrew Busby is Global Industry Leader Retail at Software AG and Founder of Retail Reflections