Paula Nickolds sets out the future of John Lewis

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New managing director of John Lewis, Paula Nickolds, has stated that the business needs to change in the current volatile retail environment to create a more “experience-led” shopping environment for customers.

Nickolds is the first female managing director of the company in 152 years of trading. She started out working for John Lewis as a graduate trainee 23 years ago.

One of her aims moving forward is to increase the amount of own brand and exclusive John Lewis products to over 50% from its current figure of 37%.

She said: “Our brand is our secret weapon. We need to offer customers things you can only get from John Lewis.”

This shift has already started with the launch of the in-house denim brand, And/Or.

There are also plans to introduce new services such as installation of electrical appliances that are home-delivered, and allowing customers to book slots with in-store experts.

Nickolds said: “Shops are not just a route to sell things, they are an invitation for customers to experience our brand, and what we stand for… When I’m talking about reinventing the department store, I’m not talking about physical space, I’m talking about the holistic provision of services that a department store can provide.”

There are currently 48 John Lewis stores across the UK and a further three are due to open in the next two years. Nickolds stated that after these new store openings there were unlikely to be more, and online shopping is expected to account for half of all sales by 2020.

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