John Lewis has revealed that it is looking to expand into hundreds of small towns through a tie-up with a chain of convenience stores, or another partner. .
The department store retailer currently offers a ‘click & collect’ service through its sister chain Waitrose which allows customers to pick up goods bought from the John Lewis website from their nearest Waitrose store if they do not want to wait at home for a delivery or if their nearest department store is too far away.
However, the chain’s managing director Andy Street revealed yesterday that he is in talks with various unnamed parties about extending the click & collect service, so that customers could pick up their orders from local retailers. "We are forging partnerships with others," he said.
Street's comments were made at the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Symposium, where he declared that British retailers needed no more than 70 outlets to reach every customer in Britain if retailers adopted a so-called “omnichannel” strategy – the industry buzz word for selling products via shops, online, mobile phones and through click & collect.
"We believe that national coverage for an online retailer in 2020 is no more than about 60 or 70 shops," he said. "The days for needing 200 to cover the UK are clearly history."
Dixons Retail said last week that it planned to reduce UK store numbers to about 400 from 557, including only about 40 in city centers, as it integrates its store-based and Internet businesses. Meanwhile, Argos is also reducing store numbers, while ramping up their online presence. “It’s all about clicks and bricks together,” Street said. Online sales at John Lewis are growing at an annual pace of about 40%, the executive said.
Street also said that John Lewis is currently developing three formats, including a new chain of smaller department stores, the first of which is due to open in Exeter, southwest England. The retailer will also add home-furnishing outlets, where shoppers can collect orders placed online for items not necessarily sold in the store. It will open fewer of its full-line department stores, or “regional flagships,” Street said.
At the same event, the BRC called for radical action – including the creation of enterprise zones, the compulsory purchase of derelict stores and rent-free deals –to revive the UK's ailing high streets. "We all want our high streets to be regenerated, we want them to become thriving places that customers want to go to, but it needs bold action," Rob Templeman, the former chief executive of Debenhams who now chairs the retail lobby group, told Retail Symposium delegates.
He was critical of a government-sponsored initiative to regenerate high streets involving Mary Portas. "When you propose projects with £11.5m of funding across 12-15 towns, it's not much good when you have just charged retailers £350m extra for rates," he said.
"Government needs to stand up and do something positive about getting growth."
NamNews - Wednesday 27th June 2012