Press releases

John Lewis' JLAB accelerator returns for 2015


Wednesday 25 March 2015


  • Tech accelerator initiative launched today at John Lewis' AW15 TREND Event
  • £100k in funding available to develop innovative ideas for the future of retail
  • JLAB 2014 winner Localz trialling micro-location services in Peter Jones
  • Enter at

John Lewis today announces the 2015 launch of JLAB, its start-up accelerator run in association with technology entrepreneur Stuart Marks' investment fund L Marks. The JLAB accelerator is designed to bring the world's foremost innovators together with one of the UK’s most advanced omnichannel retailers, to develop products and services that will shape the retail experience of the future.

Following a successful first year in 2014, JLAB will offer funding and office space to up to 10 start-up businesses. At the end of the programme in October, one winning start-up will receive a contract to trial their solution in John Lewis stores, and up to £100,000 in further investment.

Applications are now open to start-ups at any stage that have innovative ideas for new retail solutions. There are several different categories for entries, each inspired by John Lewis' core business priorities. They are:

  • Meshing the Digital and Physical: new technology that enables John Lewis to aggregate data and gain new insights to help provide an improved customer journey in store, online and on mobile.
  • Effortless Payments: technology to enable seamless omnichannel payment journeys in store, switching between customer or Partner mobile devices and fixed point EPOS.
  • Smart Partners: ideas on enabling a smart workforce to deliver even better customer service in store while reducing low value activities.
  • Connected Home: ​technology that can help John Lewis develop a differentiated, unique, connected home experience for its customers.
  • Surprise Us: ​innovations that are so out of this world they are hard to classify.


Last year's winner, micro-location technology specialist Localz, took home £100,000 in investment and is now trialling its solution in Peter Jones. Localz's technology gives customers the opportunity to take advantage of some enhanced services using their smartphone based on their precise location. For example, it could automatically offer to trigger a customer's Click & Collect order to be picked as they enter the shop to speed up the collection or help customers to navigate their way around one of our shops based on their online wish list.

Tim Andrew, co-Founder and Commercial Director of Localz, said: 'Since winning JLAB, Localz has enjoyed amazing growth in our clients, and a large part of this is due to the on-going support of John Lewis which has worked closely with us to maintain their edge as a leading omnichannel retailer. We're excited to see what the future holds and will continue to work with John Lewis on our Click and Collect solution.'

Paul Coby, IT Director at John Lewis, said: 'As an established business we have certain ways of doing things and JLAB is an opportunity to inject the start-up spirit into our innovation efforts.  Our inspiration is our founder Spedan Lewis - what new things would he be doing today?  After the success of last year, I'm looking forward to working with a fresh group of start-ups with exciting ideas that could help shape the customer and Partner experience at John Lewis for years to come.'

Stuart Marks, technology entrepreneur and Chairman of L Marks, said: 'I'm delighted to be working with John Lewis on JLAB for the second year. We have created something distinctive in the UK retail sector that will give start-ups access to the best mentors and an environment where they can develop their ideas. I'm certain that we will find another new and exciting technology that will strengthen John Lewis's leadership in omnichannel retailing.'

Applications are open now, and will close at midnight on 1 May. Both John Lewis and Stuart Marks will then work together to select up to ten start-up companies who will be based within JLAB during a 12-week accelerator stage, which takes place over the summer and will see a number of expert mentors help the participants in developing their ideas.  The overall winner will be decided at a final pitch day in September.

Start-ups and entrepreneurs can apply for JLAB via the website: Applications close on 1 May 2015.

Notes to editors

John Lewis - John Lewis operates 43 John Lewis shops across the UK (31 department stores, ten John Lewis at home and shops at St Pancras International and Heathrow Terminal 2) as well as It is part of the John Lewis Partnership, the UK's largest example of worker co-ownership and all 30,000 John Lewis staff are Partners in the business. John Lewis, 'Multichannel Retailer of the Year 2014'¹ , 'Best Overall Retailer'² and 'Best Retailer 2014'³, typically stocks more than 350,000 separate lines in its department stores across fashion, home and technology. stocks over 280,000 products, and is consistently ranked one of the top online shopping destinations in the UK. 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 2014
³ Which? Awards 2014.

You can follow John Lewis on the following social media channels:


For further information please contact:

Vikki Speed
Senior Communications Officer, Corporate & Brand, John Lewis
Telephone: 020 7931 4921