John Lewis managing director Paula Nickolds has said the modern department store should be a place to “shop, do and learn” as she prepares to open the doors of the retailer’s 50th store at Westfield London tomorrow.
The 230,000 sq ft store is the anchor tenant of the £600m White City, Westfield extension and is promising to be the most experiential of its stores to date with daily fashion style talks, cookery masterclasses in a demonstration kitchen, and beauty treatments in either the &Beauty Express Nail & Brow Bar, or Hair and Beauty Salon.
It will also feature a new “Discovery Room” where customers can learn new skills such as how to perfectly light a room, how to make a house a smart home and hang a picture perfectly. An “Experience Desk” and lounge will enable customers to consult with staff who will recommend solutions from the 23 different services on offer from home design advice to travel advice, book appointments with experts, and reserve tickets for events happening in store.
Fashion will also be centre stage with a “Style Studio”, a 700 sq ft place for men or women to take part in a one on one, or a group style consultation. Customers will be able to choose which of the five personal stylists they want to style them in one of seven different style and beauty advice appointments – from assistance with getting ready for a special event, to a wardrobe refresh in addition to two options which include make-up, beauty treatments and afternoon tea.
John Lewis will also become one of the first UK retailers to launch an app-based service enabling customers to keep in touch with their personal stylist. Alerted by text or email about products based on their personal preferences, customers will be able to find out when a new collection has arrived from their favourite brand, or if a product they love is going into price match.
“Retail is changing but today’s department shop is as relevant as it ever has been in responding to the needs of our customers. This shop demonstrates our latest thinking on how the department store can be a place in which you can shop, do and learn in a way you haven’t been able to before’,” said Nickolds.
“We’re bringing to West London a new level of personalised, curated shopping which until now has been the preserve of boutique shops,” she added.
The shop will stock more than 150,000 products and more than 1,000 brands and will be the first in the UK to sell US denim brand, and sister brand to J Crew, Madewell.
To deliver this elevated level of customer service, John Lewis has invested heavily in staff training. Every member of the shop’s 500 staff has been sent to theatre training run by the National Theatre to help them engage with customers and provide outstanding customer service.
While personal stylists have been trained at the London College of Style and by former Vogue fashion director, Lucinda Chambers, who taught them how to translate high fashion catwalk trends to the shopfloor.