LONDON — John Lewis is revamping its image and giving a boost of confidence to the much-challenged U.K. high street along the way.
The British retailer has changed its name to John Lewis & Partners to highlight that it is employee-owned, and on Tuesday morning unveiled a new logo and Web site design that features a more modernist black-and-white background and clean, minimalist font.
On the same day, the retailer opened the doors to a new 40,000-square-foot women’s wear department at its Oxford Street flagship. The revamped shop floor presents one of the most significant investments made by the retailer to refresh its image. It also highlights the company’s strategy of shifting the focus to its own in-house labels and other accessible luxury brands that are not widely available at wholesale.
“The ambition of the partnership is to have 50 percent of what we sell being exclusive to us, so how we position our own brand is really key. We’re putting brand new John Lewis & Partners collections in the center of the women’s wear floor. It’s now the heartbeat of the space, if you like,” said Camilla Rowe, the retailer’s head of accessories, adding that this new structure will be introduced to 15 additional locations across the U.K. as of this week. “It’s a real departure from how we presented our in-house labels in the past and a way for us to put real confidence in the brands.”
The retailer has given a facelift to its main in-house label, also called John Lewis & Partners, unveiling a new line of ready-to-wear and accessories that focuses on bright colors and classic silhouettes.
“It’s about style and fitting pieces into people’s wardrobes, not about dictating fashion to women. The idea is to have lots of different colors for women to style in different ways and to offer pieces that are suitable for anyone, at any age,” added Rowe.
The line, which spans 300 ready-to-wear pieces and up to 400 accessories, features bright-colored knits, coats in bold shades of red, mustard or burgundy, tailoring and easy-to-wear pieces such as a baby-blue shift dress or oversize culottes in a bright-green shade.
Prices range from 25 pounds for a top to 250 pounds for a coat.
As for the accessories, Rowe said the aim is to focus on leather pieces and to streamline the offer to a series of key shapes, such as color-block sneakers and pumps, and backpacks, totes and crossbody bags in graphic shapes.
The retailer has been rethinking its merchandising, bringing the rtw and handbag collections in one space in order to encourage customers to mix and match different pieces across the range.
The new collection is located in prime position, by the entrance of the new shop floor and surrounded by other in-house labels, including the contemporary brands Kin and Modern Rarity.
Elsewhere, the floor is dedicated to accessible luxury brands such as Boden, Finery, J. Crew, Madewell and Somerset by Alice Temperley, an ongoing collaboration between the retailer and Temperley.
“The idea is to bring these brands that are either only available online or not sold anywhere else in the U.K., outside their own stores,” said Rowe. “It’s an area that offers differentiation. We know our customers want things that they can just buy from us, so it’s about giving them more of what they want and probably surprising them, too. Up to 44 percent of the brands that we offer in this store can only be bought from John Lewis. It’s a big part of our overall strategy.”
The women’s shoe department has been updated to include new athleisure brands such as Superga and more designer names, which are in line with the retailer’s commitment to accessible luxury, including the likes of Rag & Bone, Isabel Marant and Stuart Weitzman.
Part of the shoe hall includes a space operated by Kurt Geiger that aims to introduce even more designer names to the John Lewis audience, including Coach, Michael Michael Kors, Paul Smith and Sarah Jessica Parker, another U.K. exclusive for the retailer.
Customer service has been another priority and John Lewis has introduced a personal shopping suite next to its shoe hall, where a customer can book a complimentary appointment and attend style talks.