John Lewis is chain of upmarket department stores operating throughout Great Britain. The chain is owned by the John Lewis Partnership. The first John Lewis store was opened in 1864 in Oxford Street, London. All permanent employees are Partners in the business.
The chain is known for its policy of "Never Knowingly Undersold" which has been in use since 1925.
The John Lewis Partnership currently operates 32 John Lewis stores throughout England, Wales and Scotland. The Oxford Street store, originally opened in 1864, is the largest operated by the Partnership. 28 of the stores are traditional department stores and four are 'John Lewis at Home' stores. There are currently two 'At Home' stores in development, due to open in late 2011. There will be a John Lewis store opening in the London Westfield development in Stratford. This store will be accompanied with a Waitrose store in the development. Both stores are due to open in 2011.
On 1 January 2008, John Lewis Oxford Street was awarded a Royal Warrant from Her Majesty the Queen as suppliers of haberdashery and household goods. John Lewis Reading is also the holder of a Royal Warrant from the Queen as suppliers of household and fancy goods, received in 2007.
The flagship store on Oxford Street began as a drapery shop, opened by John Lewis in 1864. In 1905 Lewis acquired a second store, Peter Jones in Sloane Square, London. His son,John Spedan Lewis, founded the John Lewis Partnership in 1920 after thinking up the idea during his days in charge of Peter Jones. John Spedan Lewis also thought up the idea of the Gazette, the partnership's in-house magazine, first published in 1918.
In 1933 the partnership purchased its first store outside London ~ the long established Jessops in Nottingham. Jessops only rebranded itself as John Lewis in 2002. In 1940 the partnership bought Selfridge Provincial Stores. This group of fifteen suburban and provincial department stores included Cole Brothers, Sheffield, and George Henry Lee, Liverpool, which continue to trade today, now re-branded as John Lewis. In 1953 the partnership bought Herbert Parkinson, a textile manufacturer, a business which still makes all the duvets, pillows and furnishings for John Lewis.
The original Oxford Street shop is still the flagship and largest branch in the Partnership. A complete refurbishment of the building was completed in late 2007 at a cost of ï¿½60 million. This introduced the brand new 'Place To Eat' restaurant and the inclusion of a brasserie and bistro in the store. A 'John Lewis Food Hall from Waitrose' opened in the shop's basement in October 2007. A second Food Hall opened at the John Lewis Bluewater store on 6 August 2009.
The refurbishment of the Oxford Street flagship follows on from substantial investment made in other shops across the group over recent years. This has included the renovation of Peter Jones at a cost of ï¿½107 million, completed in 2004.
As a large and successful retailer, John Lewis has increasingly been seen by both planners and developers as the central magnet which can make or break a shopping development. The first John Lewis store constructed as part of a shopping centre was Jessops in Nottingham which has been a feature of Victoria Centre since it opened in 1972. The announcement of ananchor tenant such as John Lewis contributes to the certainty of developers' proposals, and so attracts other retailers to the area.
Many stores acquired by the Partnership retained their original names for several years, including Jessops in Nottingham (its first store outside London), Bonds in Norwich, Trewins in Watford, and Bainbridge's in Newcastle. All have now been rebranded John Lewis, with the exception of Peter Jones and Knight & Lee in Southsea.
The John Lewis Partnership were the first department store group in the UK to adopt central buying, launching the 'Jonell(e)' name for own brand merchandise in 1937. That brand name has gradually been replaced with the 'John Lewis' name since 2001. Additional own brands include John Lewis Collection as well as John Lewis men, women, boy, girl and baby for clothing. A selection of Waitrose own brand products, such as cleaning materials and party stationery, are also available from John Lewis.
Before the relaxation of UK Sunday trading laws, John Lewis stores were well known for closing on Mondays to allow staff a full two day "weekend".
In June 2004, John Lewis announced plans to open its first store in Northern Ireland at the Sprucefield Park development, the province's largest out of town shopping centre, located outside Lisburn and ten miles (16 km) from Belfast. The application was approved in June 2005 and the opening of the new store was scheduled for 2008. This decision was disputed, however, and was taken to the High Court where it was reversed.
In 2008 a controversy over the declaration of expenses by UK Members of Parliament revealed that Parliamentary authorities were using information from John Lewis - the 'John Lewis list' - as a guide to the maximum costs refundable to MPs when equipping London pieds ï¿½ terre at public expense.
On 6 November 2008, it was announced that John Lewis would open their first department store outside the UK in Dublin, Ireland. Subject to planning permission, the shop will be a key part the Dublin central development in historic Oï¿½Connell Street. The centre is being developed by Chartered Land and will be part of the largest retail centre in Ireland, regenerating 5.4 acres (22,000 m2) of the city centre. The ï¿½1.2 billion development is due to open in 2013.
The Cardiff store opened in September 2009 as part of the St David's Centre ï¿½ Phase 2 development, and is the largest John Lewis department store in the UK outside of London. The Cardiff branch is also the Partnership's only department store in Wales. Stratford will open in 2011 together with a new Waitrose supermarket. The new shops will anchor theWestfield Stratford City development alongside the Olympic Park in east Londo