John Lewis (department store)

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John Lewis plc
Industry Retail
Genre Department Store
Founded 1864 (1864)
Founder John Lewis
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Key people
Andy Street, Managing Director
John Lewis & John Spedan Lewis
Revenue Increase £4.060 billion(2013)[1]
Increase £ 226 million (2013)
Owner John Lewis Partnership
Number of employees
Slogan "Never Knowingly Undersold"

John Lewis is a chain of upmarket department stores operating throughout Great Britain. The chain is owned by the John Lewis Partnership. The first John Lewis store was opened in 1864 in Oxford Street, London.

The chain is known for its policy of "Never Knowingly Undersold" which has been in use since 1925.[1]

There are 43 stores throughout England, Scotland and Wales, including ten new "At Home" stores, and a new "flexible format" store in Exeter. The store in Cardiff is the largest operated by the Partnership outside London.

On 1 January 2008, the Oxford Street store was awarded a Royal Warrant from Her Majesty the Queen as: "suppliers of haberdashery and household goods".[2] John Lewis Reading is also the holder of a Royal Warrant from the Queen in 2007 as suppliers of household and fancy goods.[3] Peter Jones, located in Sloane Square, Chelsea, is the holder of a Royal Warrant to both HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh as draper and furnisher.[4]


Early history[edit]

John Lewis store in Liverpool.

The flagship store on Oxford Street began as a drapery shop, opened by John Lewis in 1864. In 1905 Lewis acquired a second store, Peter Jones in Sloane Square, London. His son, John Spedan Lewis, founded the John Lewis Partnership in 1920 after thinking up the idea during his days in charge of Peter Jones. John Spedan Lewis also thought up the idea of the Gazette, the partnership's in-house magazine, first published in 1918.

In 1933 the partnership purchased its first store outside London, the long established Jessops & Son in Nottingham. Jessops only rebranded itself as John Lewis on 27 October 2002. In 1940 the partnership bought Selfridge Provincial Stores. This group of fifteen suburban and provincial department stores included: Knight & Lee, Southsea; Cole Brothers, Sheffield; George Henry Lee, Liverpool; Robert Sayle, Cambridge; and Trewins, Watford; all of which continue to trade today but which are now re-branded as John Lewis as well as Caley's, Windsor, which has since closed.

In 1949, it was reported that London branches included Peter Jones, John Barnes, John Pound and Bon Marche. The "provincial branches" were Robert Sayle, of Peterborough and Cambridge, Tyrell and Green, of Southampton and Lance and Lance Ltd. of Weston-super-Mare. They also had "silk shops" at Hull, Edinburgh and Newcastle.[5]

In 1953 the famous Reading Department Store Heelas became part of the John Lewis group and remained named as such under the Heelas name until 2001 when it adopted the John Lewis name. Also in 1953 the partnership bought Herbert Parkinson, a textile manufacturer, a business which still makes duvets, pillows and furnishings for John Lewis.[6]

Recent history[edit]

John Lewis store in Cardiff.

The first John Lewis store constructed as part of a shopping centre was Jessops in Nottingham which has been a feature of Victoria Centre since it opened in 1972. The announcement of an anchor tenant such as John Lewis contributes to the certainty of developers' proposals, and so attracts other retailers to the area.

Before the relaxation of UK Sunday trading laws in 1994, John Lewis stores closed on Mondays to allow staff a full two day "weekend".

The John Lewis Partnership were the first department store group in the UK to adopt central buying, launching the 'Jonell(e)' name for own brand merchandise in 1937. That brand name has gradually been replaced with the 'John Lewis' name since 2001. Additional own brands include Collection by John Lewis as well as John Lewis & Co. and Collection Weekend by John Lewis. A selection of Waitrose own brand products, such as cleaning materials and party stationery, are also available from John Lewis.

Many stores acquired by the Partnership retained their original names for several years, including Tyrell and Green in Southampton until 2000,[7] Bonds in Norwich until 2001, Trewins in Watford until 2001, Jessops in Nottingham (its first store outside London) until 2002,[8] and Bainbridge's in Newcastle until 2002. All have now been rebranded John Lewis, with the exception of Peter Jones in south west London and Knight & Lee in Southsea.

Investment has been made across the group over recent years. This has included the renovation of Peter Jones at a cost of £107 million, completed in 2004.[9] The original Oxford Street shop is still the flagship and largest branch in the partnership. A complete refurbishment of the building was completed in late 2007 at a cost of £60 million. This introduced the new 'Place To Eat' restaurant and a brasserie and bistro in the store. A 'John Lewis Food Hall from Waitrose' opened in the shop's basement in October 2007. A second Food Hall opened at the John Lewis Bluewater store on 6 August 2009.


Department stores[edit]

As of June 2014, the John Lewis Partnership operated 42 John Lewis stores throughout England, Wales and Scotland.[10] The Oxford Street store, originally opened in 1864, is the largest operated by the Partnership. 31 of the stores are traditional department stores and 10 are 'John Lewis at home' stores.

John Lewis at home[edit]

In 2009, John Lewis announced a new format of "John Lewis at home" stores, the first of which opened in Poole in October 2009. The "at home" stores are located within pre-existing shopping regions, and focus on Electrical, Home and Technology products. The store in Poole opened on 22 October 2009 at the former Courts site at the Commerce Centre retail park in Branksome. Following the early success of the Poole "at home" store, five further "at homes" opened in 2010/11 in areas outside of the catchment of the traditional John Lewis stores, including Croydon, Tunbridge Wells, Tamworth, Chester and Swindon. Further stores in Newbury and Chichester, West Sussex, opened in Spring 2012, with Ipswich following in November 2012.[11]

Airport store[edit]

In Summer 2014, John Lewis opened a small store airside in the newly rebuilt Terminal 2 at London Heathrow airport [12][13]

Recent developments[edit]

In June 2004, John Lewis announced plans to open its first store in Northern Ireland at the Sprucefield Park development, the province's largest out of town shopping centre, located outside Lisburn and 10 miles (16 km) from Belfast. The application was approved in June 2005 and the opening of the new store was scheduled for 2008. This decision was disputed, and was taken to the High Court, where it was reversed.

In 2008, a controversy over the declaration of expenses by UK Members of Parliament revealed that Parliamentary authorities were using information from John Lewis – the "John Lewis list" – as a guide to the maximum costs refundable to MPs when equipping London pieds à terre at public expense.

On 6 November 2008, it was announced that John Lewis would open their first department store outside the UK in Dublin, Ireland. Subject to planning permission, the shop will be built on O’Connell Street. The centre is being developed by Chartered Land and will be part of the largest retail centre in Ireland. As of January 2014 the €1.2 billion development is on hold and John Lewis are still seeking a location in Northern Ireland for a Flagship department store.[14]

Westfield Stratford City

The Cardiff store opened in September 2009 as part of the Phase 2 development of St David's Centre, and is the largest John Lewis department store in the UK outside of London. The Cardiff branch is also the Partnership's only department store in Wales.[15][16] Stratford opened in 2011 together with a new Waitrose supermarket. The new shops will anchor the Westfield Stratford City development alongside the Olympic Park in east London.

In February 2011, it was announced that John Lewis was appointed as the Official Department Store provider for the London 2012 Olympic Games. As part of the deal, John Lewis stores became key retail outlets for official London 2012 merchandise.[17]

Also in February 2011, John Lewis announced it is to open a 250,000-square-foot (23,000 m2) department store in Birmingham city centre in 2014. The completion date of 2014 has been push back to early 2015 due to complications regarding the construction of the centre, including issues relating to car parks and taxi ranks. With the Grand Central leasing director Keith Stone stating the date was pushed back to ensure a better customer experience.[18] John Lewis will be the flagship store for the £100 million development and will be part of a new shopping centre built on the south side of a redeveloped Birmingham New Street railway station.

In November 2011, it was announced John Lewis has shelved plans for a new store in Preston, Lancashire as part of the Tithebarn Project which has now been drastically scaled down. The current economic climate was cited as a key factor in their decision.[19]

It was announced that John Lewis would be the anchor tenant of a new development scheme in Leeds. The Eastgate Quarters scheme was approved in July 2011[20] and is to be a new shopping and dining quarter in the city centre. John Lewis have been looking for a site in Leeds for a while and are now happy they will be filling a major regional gap.[21] Although the department store pulled out of its Preston plans, the company remains committed to Leeds.[22]

John Lewis has now been announced to as an anchor to the £1bn extension of Westfield London in Shepherd's Bush.[23][24] The retailer is also looking at further location possibilities in Guildford. It is also thought that the retailer is finally in talks to open a store in central Manchester as part of the Ramada development.

John Lewis started a trial in 2013 product-labelling the lifetime electricity costs on the household goods.[25]

Visual identity[edit]

John Lewis graphic identity, 1990

The graphic identity, which has at its core the distinctive diagonal motif, was created in 1990 by John Lloyd and Jim Northover of the British design consultancy, Lloyd Northover. In 2000, it was given a minor refresh by London design consultancy Pentagram.[26]

Future developments[edit]

In July 2011, John Lewis announced that it would be opening 10 new stores under a new smaller format in city centre locations over the next five years. The new smaller format department stores will hold John Lewis's core lines of Home, Electrical and Fashions, all tailored to the local area. However, the full line will still be available through online terminals within the store, as well as the "click and collect" service already available within other branches. With the first branch opening in Exeter on 12 October 2012, Andrea O'Donnell, commercial director, said the move would help John Lewis double its turnover from £3bn ($4.89bn) to £6bn over the next 10 years [27]

John Lewis retain long-held plans to open a department store in Manchester city centre ever since the regeneration of the city centre following the 1996 Manchester bombing, but have not found a suitable site.[28] They have countered the lack of city centre store by opening two large stores in Cheadle in 2000 and the Trafford Centre in 2005.[29]

Current locations[edit]

Department stores[edit]

A John Lewis store in Oxford Street, London.

In addition to their Oxford Street flagship store in Central London, John Lewis also operates full-line department stores in:


City Venue Original name Founded Rebranded
Aberdeen Bon Accord n/a 1989 n/a
Edinburgh St. James Centre n/a 1943 n/a
Glasgow Buchanan Galleries n/a 1999 n/a


City Venue Original name Founded Rebranded
Birmingham Grand Central n/a 2015 n/a
London Brent Cross n/a 1976 n/a
Bristol Cribbs Causeway n/a 1981 relocated 1998
Cambridge Grand Arcade Robert Sayle 1840 2007
Cheadle Cheadle Royal n/a 1995 n/a
Exeter Princesshay n/a 2012 n/a
Greenhithe Bluewater n/a 1999 n/a
High Wycombe Cressex Centre n/a 1988 n/a
Kingston Wood Street n/a 1990 n/a
Leicester Highcross n/a 2008 n/a
Leeds Eastgate Quarters n/a 2015 n/a
Liverpool Liverpool One George Henry Lee 1853 2008
Milton Keynes Centre:MK n/a 1979 n/a
Newcastle upon Tyne Eldon Square Bainbridge's 1838 2002
Norwich off All Saint's Green Bonds of Norwich 1879 2001
Nottingham Victoria Centre Jessops / Jessops & Son 1804 2002
Peterborough Queensgate n/a 1982
Reading off Broad Street Heelas 1854 2001
Sheffield Barker's Pool Cole Brothers 1847 2002
London Sloane Square Peter Jones 1877 n/a
Solihull Touchwood n/a 2001 n/a
Southampton WestQuay Tyrrell & Green 1897 2000
Southsea Palmerston Road Knight & Lee 1887
London Westfield Stratford City n/a 2011 n/a
Trafford Trafford Centre n/a 2005 n/a
Watford Intu Watford Trewins / Trewin Brothers 1880 relocated 1990
Welwyn Garden City Bridge Road Welwyn Department Stores 1921 1984
York Vangarde Shopping Park n/a 2014 n/a

There is one planned in Worcester, near to the Worcestershire Royal Hospital. A Waitrose will also be built. Link will follow soon.


City Venue Original name Founded Rebranded
Cardiff St. David's n/a 2009 n/a

Flexible format department stores[edit]

John Lewis store in Newcastle.

John Lewis opened their first new concept 'flexible format' department store on 12 October 2012. This new format for stores of between 60,000 and 120,000 sq ft sits between the 'full-line' department store and 'at home' shops in terms of scale. These stores offer a wide range of John Lewis departments across the categories of Fashion, Home and Electricals & Home Technology. An edited assortment available on the shop floor is complemented by in-store terminals providing access to the full range available to order from the John Lewis website.

John Lewis At Home stores[edit]

A John Lewis store in Reading.

Airport store[edit]

John Lewis opened a limited range airport store within the rebuilt London Heathrow Terminal 2 during July 2014.

Former department stores[edit]

Pratts, Streatham
  • John Barnes, Finchley Road, London - closed 1981, building now occupied by Waitrose
  • Blinkhorn & Son, Gloucester - sold 1953 to Woolworths
  • Blinkhorn & Son, Stroud - sold 1953 to Woolworths
  • Bon Marché, Brixton, London - closed 1975
  • Bon Marché, Tunbridge Wells - sold 1953
  • Buckleys, Harrogate - sold 1953
  • A H Bull, Reading - incorporated into Heelas & Co. Premises sold 1953 to Littlewoods chain stores
  • Caleys, Windsor - closed 2006
  • Daniel Neal, Edgware Road, London - closed 1963
  • Daniel Neal, Kensington, London - closed 1964
  • Daniel Neal, Bournemouth - closed 1977
  • Daniel Neal, Cheltenham - closed 1977
  • Holdrons, Peckham, London - sold 1948
  • Jones Brothers, Holloway Road, London - closed 1990, part of Jones Brothers site now occupied by Waitrose
  • Lance & Lance, Weston-Super-Mare - closed 1956
  • Pratts, Streatham, London - closed 1990
  • Quin & Axten, Brixton, London - sold 1949
  • Robert Sayle Peterborough (formerly Thomsons), Peterborough - closed 1956
  • Vinalls, Eastbourne - sold 1953 to Macartney Stewart Limited of Sussex

The only remaining stores of the seventeen the John Lewis Partnership acquired from Selfridge Provincial Stores are thus those in Sheffield, Liverpool, Cambridge and Watford.


  1. ^ a b "John Lewis Partnership - John Lewis Partnership plc Results for the year ended 28 January 2012". Retrieved 7 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Royal Warrant Directory - John Lewis[dead link]
  3. ^ "John Lewis awarded Royal Warrant". Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  4. ^ "Peter Jones, Sloane Sq, London". Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  5. ^ "Big stores' right to ban extremists". Hartlepool Mail. 19 November 1949 – via British Newspaper Archive. 
  6. ^ "Herbert Parkinson History". Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Daily Echo
  8. ^ BBC Nottingham
  9. ^ Walsh, Fiona; 573 words. "Peter John revamp signs off Pentegram concept". Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  10. ^ "Department Stores". John Lewis. Retrieved 29 September 2012. 
  11. ^ "John Lewis Exeter now open". Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  12. ^ "Latest News from Heathrow Terminal 2: John Lewis to open first airport store". 2 July 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  13. ^ "John Lewis to open at Heathrow's Terminal 2". 2 July 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  14. ^ "John Lewis Partnership website - Dublin store". Retrieved 6 November 2008. 
  15. ^ "John Lewis website - Cardiff store". Retrieved 3 August 2008. 
  16. ^ "Store wars as John Lewis opens". BBC News. 24 September 2009. Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  17. ^ Marketin Magazine
  18. ^
  19. ^ Lancashire Evening Post, 17 Nov 2011
  20. ^ "News & Events". 8 July 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  21. ^ "Department Stores - New shops: Leeds". John Lewis. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  22. ^ Saturday (5 November 2011). "Leeds: John Lewis in pledge over £675m Eastgate plan - Top Stories". Yorkshire Evening Post. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  23. ^ "New shops : Westfield London Expansion Plans". Westfield. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  24. ^ "John Lewis to open Westfield London store". Telegraph. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  25. ^ John Lewis puts lifetime electricity cost on product labelsGovernment-backed scheme aims to show people how energy efficient appliances can help them save on energy bills The Guardian 9 September 2013
  26. ^ Mills, Lauren (29 October 2000). "John Lewis hires image maker for new look". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  27. ^ Felsted, Andrea (22 July 2011). "FT 'John Lewis to open 10 new stores'". Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  28. ^ "The history of John Lewis Cheadle". John Lewis. Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  29. ^ Linton, Deborah (27 April 2011). "John Lewis searching for site to open major store in Manchester". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  30. ^ "Department Stores". John John Lewis Partnership. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 

External links[edit]

Media related to John Lewis (department store) at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 51°29′49″N 0°08′40″W / 51.497°N 0.14434°W / 51.497; -0.14434