Even amongst gloomy shopping reports, department store John Lewis is faring better than most. With weekly sales figures up by 1.4 percent, last week, and up compared to last year and online figures up 28 percent year on year, Robbie Feather, buying director, commented, ‘we look forward to our sales increasing steadily from here and we’re well placed to take advantage of spring as sales now build towards Mothers Day, Easter and The Royal Wedding beyond.’
John Lewis have also recently made a big push to expand and develop their women’s wear department. Mark Forsyth, brand manager, said, ‘whilst John Lewis is famous for its Home offerings, we knew there was more we could do with fashion. Ultimately we want to be the fashion destination on the high street.’
It’s a big move for the department store, which last week won ‘Retailer of the Year’ at the Oracle Retail Awards 2011, to steer their fashion selection away from its ‘safe’ connotations.
New brands to look out for include Day Birger et Mikkelsen, BCBG Max Azria along with a host of respectable classics such as Jaeger, Toast, Mint Velvet. The main change to look out for is the new fashion floor concept which includes mannequins, fixtures and display without compromising on density of stock. There is also new large scale imagery across branches and clear zoning and visibility of brands.
Despite developments, Forsyth maintains that figures are up ‘because they’ve stuck to what their customer wants.’ With the target John Lewis shopper an ‘AB1 type’ – a progressive regular – 35 years, discerning, and with service and quality of key importance, ‘it is not about disposable fashion but more about making considered choices and opting for good quality investment pieces that will be durable.’ Forsyth continues, ‘fabrication, fit and detailing also matter to our customer not just provenance alone.’
With the online business flourishing, plans are to increase the number of fashion lines available on the website and to keep carving out a niche where good quality fashion can come at an affordable price.
And look out for the new John Lewis due to open this year at the Olympic site in Stratford.