The John Lewis Partnership has plans to open 10 new UK department stores in addition to the 11 already in the pipeline.
The announcement was made today to delegates at the British Council of Shopping Centres’ conference in Manchester by John Lewis’s managing director, Charlie Mayfield.
He said:’We are doing a lot of work looking across the country at the distribution of our target customers. Even when we open these 11 shops, half of the top 50 retail centres in the UK will still be without a John Lewis. There is potential for all the 10 shops beyond what is already in the pipeline. It reflects our commitment to physical expansion.’
He added that the expansion came at a time when John Lewis expected to double the size of its internet sales which stood at £200m this year.
Mayfield tried to allay delegates’ fears of internet shopping on retail property, revealing that John Lewis’s customers who both shopped on line and in the department store spent more in the store than those who only shopped in the store.
‘The internet will not kill off shopping, because people enjoy shopping,’ he argued. ‘The internet is not a replacement for shopping, but it is going to change the way we shop. We see the internet not as a threat but an opportunity.’
He compared the internet to the arrival of a new centre next to a tire old one, adding: ‘Our Oxford Street shop was looking a bit tired. It needed refreshment, and we are spending £61m on the shop. This isn’t cushy money. This is a hard nosed business decision,’
The refurbishment includes a food hall, light wells and a doubling in the space for restaurants.
Mayfield cited the example of the John Lewis in Southampton’s West Quay which opened six years ago at a cost of £35m, and had now become the tenth John Lewis to take £100m.
He concluded: ‘On our own, we can create great shops. Working with you [developers] we can create great retail schemes, and working with you and local authorities, we can create great places. There is no time that the need for partnership has been greater.’