John Lewis gives shoppers more at Westfield

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The new, much anticipated, John Lewis store opened recently in Westfield’s White City £600m extension so we couldn’t resist checking it out.

While not as large as the Oxford Street store, this new flagship still boasts an impressive 230,000 sq ft of retail space over 4 floors (that’s almost 4 Wembley stadium pitches!). And at £33m, it’s not a cheap way to open the brand’s 50th store. So has the investment been worth it?

Westfield has dramatically extended the centre so it’s now officially the largest shopping centre in Europe with the John Lewis store a very definite anchor. We entered through the centre where the approach is pretty impressive. Located at one end of the new aisle under a magnificent glass roof, the store sits proudly, more reminiscent of a religious pilgrimage destination than a retail unit.

The entrance on the first floor is flanked by 4 window displays, each displaying a simple, bright and strong display in the iconic John Lewis style with the rallying cries of their summer campaign, ‘Time to pump up the lilo’ and ‘Time to burn the sausages in the garden’… where do we sign up?!Whippet_JL_4

On entering, the usual mix of curated fashion, beauty and home brands are available but what’s really striking is the obvious attempt to make the store feel like a true experience as opposed to a mere functional space. One of the ways John Lewis have done this is with the emphasis on service and experience as a key differentiator. And the addition of 23 bespoke services including lingerie fitting, technical support, personal styling, home design, opticians and beauty spa treatments definitely make for a dazzling mix of options designed to encourage behaviour beyond the traditional ‘in and out shop’ to a planned ‘afternoon out’ destination.Whippet_JL_2

Managing Director, Paula Nickolds says they wanted to create “a place to shop, do and learn under one roof… a new level of personalised, curated shopping which until how has been the preserve of boutique shops.” And we think John Lewis has certainly delivered on that promise.

There are daily fashion talks in the Style Studio, cookery classes in The Demo Kitchen, craft classes and interior design talks in The Discovery Room, to name but a few. And this is before you venture into the supremely chilled Sleep Studio to test mattresses, explore the Smart Home area or design your own rug and sofa to go with your unique flooring choice.Whippet_JL_3

What John Lewis has successfully achieved is a great experience – we forgot we were in a busy West London shopping centre and happily bought into the personalised, service-driven experience. That’s when we headed to new bar, Smith and Sinclair for an edible cocktail.

John Lewis, we salute you. You have certainly not knowingly oversold this one!

Author

Sean Dwyer

Selfridges corners it with
Rolling Stones shop

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Selfridges has long been an iconic trailblazer of the British high street stocking the best in food, fashion and homewares. It’s a powerful, aspirational brand not only surviving but flourishing in what is a difficult climate. A mainstream TV drama series, a consistent identity and an engaging brand personality all help to paint a positive picture, but possibly one of the most powerful is the store itself.

Walking through each floor of their flagship London store it’s apparent what sets it apart – the idea of shopping is seen not just as a transactional process but a rich, uplifting experience. And its newest addition to The Corner Shop is no exception.

The Corner Shop is a concept space within Selfridges where collaborators and affinity brands are invited to set out their stall. It’s an immersive space where shoppers can not only buy, but fully engage with the guest brand or products in a way that seems unique to Selfridges. The outcome is mutually beneficial: Selfridges get to exhibit some of the more experimental, unusual brands or products around, while the brands or products get to sit proudly under the Selfridges banner.

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Selfridges’ latest exhibitor comes in the form of another equally iconic British brand: The Rolling Stones. This brand tie-up is striking, clever and a perfect match – both brands exude heritage, exclusivity and style. Timed to run alongside the latest run of Stones gigs across the UK and Ireland, the shop could be seen simply (or cynically) as a high-end merch stall to shift t-shirts and logo-emblazoned hats. On the contrary. It’s been curated in such a way that you feel like you’re visiting an exhibition, where guest brands like Commes des Garçons and Schott have created unique pieces for the event. There are screens looping the Stones’ latest gig in Cuba and headphones to fully immerse yourself, a gigantic sculpture of the iconic lips subverted with a Selfridges yellow tongue, and glass cabinets showing off Jagger’s stage outfits from the seventies to today.

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In a world where retailers are having to work harder and harder to engage and retain customers, the tie-up of these two brands and the rich content in this pop-up is definitely a fresh addition to the retail landscape. ‘Retailtainment’. The Stones and Selfridges have both played such a key role in shaping culture, it’s hard to think of two brands who could pull off such a pairing with just this much aplomb.

Author

Sean Dwyer

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