The John Lewis Partnership (JLP) have recently announced both John Lewis and Waitrose will rebrand in a move designed to highlight what differentiates them, as well as a bid to stay ahead in an ever changing retail market. John Lewis will become John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose will become Waitrose & Partners from September 2018.
The strategy will see John Lewis focusing on unique products, personal services and expanding into new services. In particular for women’s fashion, John Lewis wants to focus on obtaining niche brands and securing exclusives from global fashion labels. It will also look at changing the role of its in-store staff, or as JLP term them, ‘partners’, to help build and improve the customer experience. Additionally the brand will be investing significantly in product and service innovation.
Waitrose however will be centred on core customers, extending its own-brand and raising quality. There will also be a heightened emphasis on its online store which has grown 21% year on year.
“It is widely acknowledged that the retail sector is going through a period of generational change and every retailer’s response will be different. For the partnership, the focus is on greater differentiation – not scale,” A spokesperson for John Lewis said in a recent statement.
Decisions like these are set to become more frequent in a time where the economy is unpredictable, businesses are still unclear on the terms of the Brexit deal and the bricks and mortar retail model is facing a crisis of confidence, as online retail grows and long-term rent agreements affect profit margins. This has seen recent closure deals at M&S and House of Fraser.
Part of Fashion Roundtable's inclusion rider, includes championing the small, niche brands which make up over 90% of the UK's fashion industry. Imagine a high street, where instead of empty stores or charity shops, we had exciting local enterprises with pop up and small scale businesses. The Portas Review led by Mary Portas in 2011 was largely ignored by the last government, but we are keen to see that work implemented and updated, with relevant and vibrant solutions, creating sustainable High Streets for the future. If only the UK central and local governments could get behind these long-term strategies, before more brands close stores, leaving our towns and cities filled with empty shops.
Save The High Street, an industry movement to support every local high street business, launched their manifesto last month. It calls for: a better connected digital high street. “We must find ways to merge the strengths of local and digital commerce.” Thriving for generations to come “Where local shopkeepers focus more on expanding and less on fighting for survival.”
In an ever changing and struggling high street model JLP choosing to rebrand, is likely to be a rising trend among other big retail names.