Press releases

John Lewis celebrates 150 years of 'a better way of doing business'

Saturday 19 April 2014


John Lewis is pleased to announce plans to mark its 150th anniversary with a series of commemorative events which will celebrate a business that has grown from a humble draper's shop opened in 1864, to the £4 billion international, award-winning business it is today.

Lifting the lid on its history, John Lewis will invite the world to explore its rich and unique heritage and understand how this iconic British brand has grown out of one man's idea of 'a better way of doing business'.

An interactive exhibition in the retailer's flagship shop on Oxford Street will sit at the heart of the celebrations. From the cobbled streets of Victorian London, visitors will open a door into the retailer's past via the draper's shop where it all began on 2 May 1864. Following a dimly lit corridor past the original book that includes the first day's takings, guests will find themselves in John Spedan Lewis' office, the setting for the birth of the John Lewis Partnership. Visitors will get an insight into the man Spedan was and his revolutionary idea that all workers should be co-owners and share in the success of his company.

After a dramatic installation which tells the story of how a WWII bomb threatened the future of the company, the exhibition proceeds to explain how the 'craft of shopkeeping' and a passion for customer service has guided the business ever since. The work of many celebrated designers and brands is recognised, as well as the retailer's own textile mill, Herbert Parkinson, where a bespoke weave will fill the exhibition floor and run over the ceiling. Visitors will exit the exhibition with a glimpse into how we will shop, live and look in the future, through a unique collaboration with the Royal College of Art.

In a first for the retailer, the Oxford Street flagship will also open its roof to London. Working with Tony Woods, Royal Horticultural Society National Young Designer of the Year, and the Partnership's own gardeners from the Longstock estate, one of the capital's largest urban rooftops will be transformed into a tranquil space that boasts some of the best views in town.

Collaborating with some of Britain's most loved brands and designers, John Lewis will offer in store and online a carefully edited assortment of product that has been produced exclusively for the anniversary. Partnerships include: Antoni & Alison; Jaeger; Ted Baker; Lucienne Day; Barbour; Alex Monroe; Jo Malone; Liz Earle; Dualit; Vitra; Alessi; Links of London and Silvercross.

In a series of firsts, its fashion department sees the launch of Orla Kiely's first menswear range, exclusive to John Lewis. The electricals department has teamed up with the iconic Henry Hoover brand to offer John Lewis customers the opportunity to buy a 'John' or a 'Lewis' Hoover, and in its home department the retailer's own design studio pays homage to the brand's design history by taking key heritage prints from the archives and using them on new, modern products.

Across the country John Lewis shops will be joining the celebrations, which start on 3 May, with a whole host of regional activities and, working in partnership with Barnardos, each shop will be supporting local charity initiatives. That week the retailer will also launch a special 150th anniversary television advert to kick off its celebrations.


Notes to editors

The John Lewis Partnership - The John Lewis Partnership operates 41 John Lewis shops across the UK (31 department stores and 10 John Lewis at home), johnlewis.com, 315 Waitrose shops, waitrose.com and business to business contracts in the UK and abroad. The business has annual gross sales of over £10bn. It is the UK's largest example of worker co-ownership where all 91,000 staff are Partners in the business.

John Lewis - John Lewis, 'Multichannel Retailer of the Year 2014'¹, 'The Nation's Best Retailer'² and 'Best Retailer 2013'³, typically stocks more than 350,000 separate lines in its department stores across fashion, home and technology. Johnlewis.com stocks over 250,000 products, and is consistently ranked one of the top online shopping destinations in the UK. (www.johnlewis.com). John Lewis Insurance offers a range of comprehensive insurance products - home, car, wedding and event, travel and pet insurance and life cover - delivering the values of expertise, trust and customer service expected from the John Lewis brand.

¹ Oracle Retail Week Awards 2014
² Verdict Consumer Satisfaction Awards 2013
³ Which? Awards 2013


Enquiries

For further information please contact:

Vikki Speed
Press Officer, Corporate and Social Media
Telephone: 020 7931 4921
Email: vikki_speed@johnlewis.co.uk