From Heelas to John Lewis Reading

Holding the 'H' of Heelas; John Heelas, a descendant of the shop's founders (lef), with Robert Wright, General Manager, John Lewis Reading
John Lewis Reading in 2009

The Oracle

As an ongoing project to modernise Reading, a major new shopping centre was opened quite literally on Heelas back porch. In 1999, the Oracle shopping centre opened its doors to trading, and with that a number of retail competitors made themselves immediately available to the public. Needless to say, Heelas rose to the challenge.

John Lewis Reading

In September 2001, the decision was taken to rebrand the store, from Heelas Reading to John Lewis Reading, in line with the Partnership’s desire to completely unify its branches. At the close of business on Saturday 1st September 2001, carrier bags and receipts were displaying the Heelas name. By the morning of Sunday 2nd September, open as a result of the introduction of Sunday trading, John Lewis Reading now adjourned everything, a remarkable overnight transformation! Partners even found time to party afterwards!

Project Meerkat

John Lewis Reading was awarded a Royal Warrant by the Queen in 2007, further enhancing its high street reputation. In 2010, refurbishment was planned for some of the stores infrastructure, and in 2011, further changes were intended for the selling floor. The £15,000,000 Project Meerkat refurbishment was completed by the Christmas of 2011, and included new fashion and beauty departments.

Comments about this page

  • I think of Heelas very fondly (myself and everyone I’ve known refers to it still as Heelas). My granny used to work there, and it’s one of the parts of Reading town centre I miss the most since moving away. I hope they never remove the ‘Heelas’ from the brickwork!

    By Susie (12/05/2021)
  • There is still a large HEELAS sign in the brickwork opposite the church.

    By Tony Dickinson (04/10/2016)
  • Such a pity that the JLP chose to turn Heelas into another generic JL store. It had such history and grandure and was one of the Grand Old Ladies of Reading (having started as a relatively small store in Wokingham). They could at least have had the Heelas sign in parenthises under the plain old John Lewis sign. Sad.

    By L Vousden (01/09/2016)

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