On the 20th March 2018, The Gazette, The Partnership's in-house magazine, published the following:
It was difficult to know if Partners or customers cheered louder when John Lewis opened its 50th shop today, Tuesday 20 March.
White City is the flagship store of Westfield’s £600m extension of its shopping centre in West London and builds upon the experience-first approach of John Lewis & Partners Oxford.
‘What a historic day, opening our most experienced-focused shop on London’s old Olympic centre,’ said Head of Branch Ruth Scharvona. ‘I’m immensely proud of how we’ve bonded as a team in such a short time.’
The store boasts a number of new concepts including a Style Studio, Discovery Room and a smart home equipped with Apple HomeKit products.
Events will be a major part of the shop’s rhythm, including daily style talks, cookery masterclasses and beauty treatments. They’ll be curated by the Store Events Coordinator, a new role for JL, and promoted at the division’s fourth Experience Desk.
It’s also the first shop to pilot ‘clienteling’, a concept that will see stylists presented with customer shopping history and client details at their fingertips with a brand new Partner app.
‘Clienteling is about encouraging Partners to develop relationships that allow them to draw customers back in branch, even when customers hadn’t intended to visit,’ says Paula Nickolds, JL Managing Director.
The app will rollout to all selling roles in all branches following the White City launch and has the potential to see Partners contacting customers via email and text messages to personally recommend new products, brands and services even when they’re not in the store.
More than 500 Partners work at the shop, which took a new approach to interviewing job applicants, assessing potential Partners on their personalities rather than experience and technical ability. All selling Partners have attended National Theatre training and an intensive three-day ‘role ready’ induction.
More than 100 Partners had four weeks of bespoke product training and the store sees the introduction of the Product Coach role. Brand experience Partners had 3 weeks training including time spent understanding neuro linguistic programming.
The branch has a Benugo restaurant, along with a Place to Eat and will stock more than 1,000 brands of fashion, homewares and technology.
Elsewhere, customers will find an opticians, & Beauty spa offering hair styling, and face and body treatments, Kuoni travel advice and a home design service.
Media reaction to the branch opening has been favourable, with many picking up on JL Managing Director Paula Nickolds’s comments about department stores being a place to ‘shop, do and learn,’ and JL’s desire to offer ‘a far more personal relationship with our customers – bringing together the very best of our service offer and our outstanding Partners.’
‘Retail is changing but today’s department shop is as relevant as it ever has been in responding to the needs of our customers,’ says Paula. ‘This shop offers something different. We’re bringing a new level of personalised, curated shopping to West London, which, until now, has been the preserve of boutique shops.’
The Evening Standard dedicated almost an entire page prior to the store opening, reporting on the London School of Fashion training given to the personal stylists and the 23 in-store services offered at the shop.
Meanwhile, The Times referenced that one in four JL personal styling sessions is booked by men and the training selling Partners experienced at the National Theatre.
The shop has the first fully immersive Apple Smart Home experience in Europe, where customers can see HomeKit accessories – from lights and thermostats to smart outlets and home monitoring solutions – working in a realistic home setup and how to control them.
Katrina Mills, Buyer, Audio and Connected Home, says: ‘The space shows the capabilities of Apple Home to our customers and the breadth of compatible products available. Customers can see how a variety of products, which affect our day-to-day routines, can be controlled through just one app or by asking Siri, giving visitors to get a real feel for what a smart and connected home is.’
‘This shop sits right at the leading edge of everything we know about our customers and what they may want from John Lewis in the future,’ says Peter Cross, Director, Customer Experience. ‘Customers will experience our world-famous service taken to a whole new level.’