John Lewis (department store)

John Lewis
Type Subsidiary
Industry Retail
Genre Department Store
Founded 1864 (1864)
Founder(s) John Lewis
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Key people John Lewis & John Spedan Lewis
Revenue £2417.4 million (2010)
Owner(s) John Lewis Partnership
Employees 27,200 (2010)
Parent John Lewis Partnership

John Lewis is a chain of upmarket department stores operating throughout Great Britain. The chain is owned by the John Lewis Partnership. The first John Lewis store was opened in 1864 in Oxford Street, London.

The chain is known for its policy of "Never Knowingly Undersold" which has been in use since 1925.[1]

There are currently 36 stores throughout England, Scotland & Wales, including six new ‘At Home’ stores, with a further four opening in 2012. The store in Cardiff is the largest currently operated by the Partnership outside of London.

On 1 January 2008, John Lewis Oxford Street was awarded a Royal Warrant from Her Majesty the Queen as suppliers of haberdashery and household goods.[2] John Lewis Reading is also the holder of a Royal Warrant from the Queen as suppliers of household and fancy goods, received in 2007.[3]



Early History

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 son, John Spedan Lewis, founded 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 Jessops in Nottingham. Jessops only rebranded itself as John Lewis in 2002. In 1940 the partnership bought Selfridge Provincial Stores. This group of fifteen suburban and provincial department stores included: Cole Brothers, Sheffield; George Henry Lee, Liverpool; Robert Sayle, Cambridge; and Trewins, Watford; all of which continue to trade today but which are now re-branded as John Lewis as well as Caley's, Windsor which has since closed. In 1953 the partnership bought Herbert Parkinson, a textile manufacturer, a business which still makes all the duvets, pillows and furnishings for John Lewis.[4]

Recent History

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 ref. This introduced the brand new 'Place To Eat' restaurant and the inclusion of a brasserie and bistro in the store. A 'John Lewis Food Hall from Waitrose' opened in the shop's basement in October 2007. A second Food Hall opened at the John Lewis Bluewater store on 6 August 2009.

The refurbishment of the Oxford Street flagship follows on from substantial investment made in other shops across the group over recent years. This has included the renovation of Peter Jones at a cost of £107 million, completed in 2004.[5]

The first John Lewis store constructed as part of a shopping centre was Jessops in Nottingham which has been a feature of 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.

Many stores acquired by the Partnership retained their original names for several years, including Jessops in Nottingham (its first store outside London), Bonds in Norwich, Trewins in Watford, and Bainbridge's in Newcastle. All have now been rebranded John Lewis, with the exception of Peter Jones and Knight & Lee in Southsea.

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 John Lewis Collection as well as John Lewis men, women, boy, girl and baby for clothing. A selection of Waitrose own brand products, such as cleaning materials and party stationery, are also available from John Lewis.

Before the relaxation of UK Sunday trading laws, John Lewis stores were well known for closing on Mondays to allow staff a full two day "weekend".


Department stores

The John Lewis Partnership currently operates 36 John Lewis stores throughout England, Wales and Scotland.[6] The Oxford Street store, originally opened in 1864, is the largest operated by the Partnership. 28 of the stores are traditional department stores and six are 'John Lewis at Home' stores. There are currently four 'At Home' stores in development, due to open in 2012.[7] There will be a John Lewis store opening in the London Westfield development in Stratford. This store will be accompanied with a Waitrose store in the development. Both stores are due to open in 2011.[8] A store will open in Birmingham City Centre in 2013 within the Pallasades Shopping Centre as part of the New Street Station redevelopment.

John Lewis at home

In 2009, John Lewis announced a new format of 'John Lewis at Home' stores, the first of which was due to open 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 the 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" format, three further 'At Home' stores opened in 2010/11 in areas outside of the catchment of the traditional John Lewis stores, including Croydon, Tunbridge Wells, Tamworth and Swindon. Further stores in Exeter and Chester are due to open late 2011, with Newbury and Ashford, Kent opening in 2012.[9]

John Lewis Stores
John Lewis Oxford Street, with Christmas decorations, December 2005.  
The front entrance to the John Lewis Cribbs Causeway store.  
Christmas decorations at John Lewis Cribbs Causeway, December 2008.  
The front of the John Lewis Reading store.  
John Lewis Glasgow from the north end of Buchanan Street in Glasgow, Scotland, looking east from Sauchiehall Street.  
John Lewis Liverpool, part of the Liverpool One development.  
Highcross, Leicester.  
John Lewis Cardiff.  
John Lewis, Reading.  

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, however, 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.

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. The €1.2 billion development is due to open in 2013.[10]

The Cardiff store opened in September 2009 as part of the St David's Centre — Phase 2 development, and is the largest John Lewis department store in the UK outside of London. The Cardiff branch is also the Partnership's only department store in Wales.[11][12] Stratford will open 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 John Lewis announced it is to open a 250,000 square feet (23,000 m2) department store in Birmingham city centre in 2014. John Lewis will be the flagship store for the £100m development and will be part of a new shopping centre built on the south side of a redeveloped Birmingham New Street train 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.[13]

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 5 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 to open in Exeter next year, 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 [14]

Current Locations

Department Stores

In addition to their Oxford Street flagship store in Central London, John Lewis also operates a number of other stores in:




In addition to these stores, John Lewis also runs two other stores under different names, but with John Lewis ranges. These are the Peter Jones store in Sloane Square, London and the Knight & Lee store in Southsea, Portsmouth.[15]

John Lewis At Home Stores


Former department stores

Pratts, Streatham
  • John Barnes, Finchley Road, London - closed 1981, building now occupied by Waitrose
  • Blinkhorn & Son, Gloucester - sold 1953
  • Bon Marche, Brixton, London - closed 1975
  • Bon Marche, Tunbridge Wells - sold 1953
  • Buckleys, Harrogate - sold 1953
  • A H Bull, Reading - sold 1953
  • Caleys, Windsor - closed 2006
  • Holdrons, Peckham, London - sold 1948
  • Jones Brothers, Holloway Road, London - closed 1990, part of 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


External links

Media related to John Lewis 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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