John Lewis is planning to open up to 50 smaller home and electrical stores across Britain after it was forced to scale down ambitions to open at least half a dozen department stores over the next few years as property developers shelve regional shopping centres.

The department store group said yesterday that it had spotted '30 to 50 locations that would easily accommodate shops like this' as it unveiled plans for a 45,000 sq ft shop on a retail park near Poole in October. The site, which used to be occupied by the now defunct Courts furniture chain, has been unoccupied for three years.

Andy Street, managing director of John Lewis, was undaunted by the wider economic climate and insisted that this sort of format could thrive, in spite of the recent failure of a host of homewares chains such as Ilva UK, the furniture chain once heralded as the Danish Ikea, and the Pier, which fell into administration late last year.

Financial Times, Daily Telegraph