John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners create experimental concept shop – embracing changes in the way the nation shops


‘Experience playgrounds’ will take centre stage while in-store specialists will advise on everything from wine and gardening to interiors and technology as the John Lewis Partnership explores the future role of the shop in our customers' lives.

  • Stay and play areas where customers can take their time experimenting with everything from make-up to gadgets across all the brands on offer.
  • Brand new farm shop and roof garden from the Partnership's Leckford Estate. 
  • First ever Waitrose Cookery School inside a John Lewis & Partners shop with cooking classes. 
  • Beauty and fashion gift experiences including a personal styling package with makeover, manicure and brow treatment.
  • Specialist gardening talks and home consultations about garden redesign.

John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners have unveiled a retail dream team of experts including interior designers, chefs and wine connoisseurs, gardeners, gadget specialists, personal stylists and make-up artists.

In a unique experiment, the retailer will launch a customer-centric concept shop at its Southampton location (opening on Tuesday 19th November) where a combination of services and experiences led by expert Partners will take centre stage on every floor. If these ‘experience playgrounds’ are successful, they could be rolled out across the country.

Customers could start their day at our rooftop farm shop, pause for a 15-minute fashion fix in our style studio and learn to bake bread in the first ever Waitrose & Partners Cookery School to open in a John Lewis & Partners shop. They could compile a moodboard for a home refurbishment in The World of Design, attend a workshop on gardening and experiment with make-up or gadgets in one of our ‘stay and play’ areas.

At the heart of the shop will be a team of impartial expert Partners on-hand to help shoppers make the right choice for them. Specialists can radically overhaul customers’ wardrobes or beauty regimes, show them how to cook an impressive dinner party meal or take the perfect selfie with their new smartphone and even visit them at home to help redesign their living space or garden.

There will be many opportunities to learn a new skill, with pop-up workshops ranging from barista  and photography courses to wreath-making and modern calligraphy. Over the Christmas period, customers can learn to make festive treats such as gingerbread and yule logs at the Waitrose & Partners Cookery School, as well as receive advice on how to style a Christmas tree or find the perfect party outfit.

Peter Cross, Customer Experience Director at John Lewis & Partners, says: “Our goal is to offer customers unrivalled access to expertise and impartial advice in as many areas of their lives as we possibly can – in a way that is uplifting and inspiring. 

“We know that shopping for a new gadget or beauty product can be a daunting experience, with so much choice on offer. We want to help navigate customers through that.

“Our new concept shop is an example of how we’re reinventing the department store of the future to make us stand out from the competition.”

Our specialist Partners, offering a range of free and paid-for events, include:

Our stylists in the brand new design hub can offer free 15 minute drop-in appointments to help customers design an instant home makeover. There will be inspiring room sets so customers can visualise how our latest furniture can be styled with lamps, rugs, bookshelves to create a stylish new room. Customers can also create a bespoke magnetic moodboard with samples of carpets, wallpaper and fabric, to make it easier to remodel their home. They can even visit customers at home to help them completely remodel their kitchen or living spaces.

Our talented cookery school chefs will inspire customers to get creative with courses ranging from pan-Asian cooking to learning classic techniques, including pasta and bread making. Our drinks specialists will also be on hand to provide their expertise at in-store events or help to host wine, gin or whisky tastings from the comfort of customers’ homes.

Our gardeners have designed a beautiful rooftop garden filled with planted apple trees, providing a taste of rural living in the heart of the city. It will sit alongside the Leckford farm shop and café, a carefully curated assortment of beautiful lifestyle products and fresh produce. From Thursday 5th December, customers can sample a rooftop menu inspired by the flavours of the countryside. The Leckford Estate in Hampshire, just 25 miles from the Southampton shop, is the only farm owned by a UK food retailer and has a professional in-house horticultural team as part of its specialist plant nursery. Talks will also be held in-store about everything from how to create a terrarium to wreath-making. Shoppers can also find out more about our garden design services in-store or online.

These impartial experts will help to demystify technology for our customers in our new gadget hub called The Download. Shoppers can ask our experts how to set up their new devices, and get the best use out of them. They can also bring their purchases back into the shop for technical help. Customers will be encouraged to ‘play’ with the latest phones, music equipment and tablets. The specialists will also hold regular tech talks on subjects such as how to take the best selfie or family snapshot using a smartphone.

Our personal stylists – available in all shops across the country – can provide a valuable second opinion and find the perfect style for a party, a holiday or everyday workwear – or a complete wardrobe overhaul. In Southampton, walk-in wardrobes will replace conventional fitting rooms and men’s and women’s style studios will offer customers a place to book free style appointments, peruse rails of clothes picked out just for them, read the latest fashion magazines or listen to music on our sofas while they enjoy a glass of wine or a beer. In addition, men who don’t want a formal styling session, could do a free ‘walk and talk’ style session on the shop floor.

Our guides can help with personal consultations and make-up talks at The Beauty Society in the revamped shop. They will work at new demonstration tables where customers are encouraged to ‘stay and play’ with cosmetics across all brands. The experts will be impartial and can recommend the right look for customers using a range of different cosmetic brands stocked in the shop.

Customers are invited to book time with Partners via the Southampton Experience Desk –our expert concierge. Gift experience packages are also available to purchase from the Experience Desk.  Customers can also view and book the full programme of payable events at More information can also be found at


About the John Lewis Partnership

The John Lewis Partnership owns and operates two of Britain's best-loved retail brands - John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners. Started as a radical idea nearly a century ago, the Partnership is now the largest employee-owned business in the UK, with 81,500 employees who are all Partners in the business and share in its profits. The Partnership operates on strong democratic principles, which means that every Partner has a say in how the organisation is run. The business has annual gross sales of over £11.7bn, 394 shops and a leading online business. Its commercial strategy is focused on differentiation rather than scale, through investment in innovation and Partner led service.

About John Lewis & Partners

John Lewis & Partners operates 50 John Lewis shops across the UK (37 department stores, 12 John Lewis at home and shops at St Pancras International and Heathrow Terminal 2) as well as The retailer stocks around 350,000 separate lines in its department stores and on across fashion, home and technology. This year John Lewis & Partners won, 'Best Multichannel Retailer 2018', 'Best Clothing Retailer 2018', and 'Best Furniture Retailer 2018' at the GlobalData Customer Satisfaction Awards 2018.  John Lewis Finance offers a range of comprehensive financial services products - including Insurance, Foreign Currency, International Payments and the Partnership Card - delivering the values of expertise, trust and customer service expected from the John Lewis brand.

*GlobalData Retail Customer Satisfaction Awards 2018

About Waitrose & Partners

Waitrose & Partners has 338 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands. It combines the convenience of a supermarket with the expertise and service of a specialist shop - dedicated to offering quality food that has been responsibly sourced, combined with high standards of customer service. Waitrose & Partners is an employee-owned business - all employees are Partners and have a say in how the business is run. Waitrose & Partners exports products to more than 50 countries worldwide and has nine shops which operate under licence in the Middle East. The retailer's omnichannel business includes the online grocery service,, as well as specialist online shops including for wine and for plants and flowers.


John Lewis & Partners

Katie Robson
Partner & Senior Communications Manager, Corporate
Tel: 020 7592 6296
Mob: 07764693023
Louise Eccles
Partner & Senior Communications Officer, Corporate & Financial Services 
Tel: 0207 931 4849
Mob: 07884050908