Purchasing Peter Jones in 1905
The early shop
John Lewis’ business in Oxford Street flourished, and a reputation built on honesty, service and value was rapidly established. Despite this, Mr Lewis was heavily Victorian in attitude and in method. Working hours at the shop were long, and workers operated in poor conditions, and often for little money. Mr Lewis himself was well known for his dictatorial method of management, his short temper leading to more than one arbitrary dismissal. In fact, it was his methods of management that would ultimately encourage his son, John Spedan Lewis, to push for change that would eventually culminate in the John Lewis Partnership.
In the 1880’s, following a period of expansion and growth that included acquiring property on Holles Street, Mr Lewis rebuilt the shop into a fully fledged department store. John Lewis married Eliza Baker in 1884. Together they had two sons, John Spedan and Oswald, born in 1885 and 1887 respectively.
Meanwhile, across London…
Meanwhile, in Sloane Square, another department store by the name of Peter Jones was building up its own reputation. Having opened in 1877, the shop had grown dramatically, and Jones was well known as a fair and good employer. Jones died in 1905, and John Lewis made it his mission to purchase the department store. It is well known that in December of that year, Mr Lewis walked to Sloane Square with twenty £1000 notes in his pocket, and purchased the store there and then!