JOHN Lewis is poised to launch a new restaurant concept in a move to diversify its catering range and attract more customers into its department stores.
Chief executive Andy Street said while John Lewis’ restaurants and cafeterias were profitable and provided good quality, “middle of the road” food, they were not “cutting edge” brands.
“There is an opportunity to bring some more diversification into our catering offer. By having a slightly different branding offer we can attract a different customer,” he told City A.M.
The launch of a new brand, which is due to be announced within weeks, is the latest example of the retailer radically rethinking how it uses space at some of its larger stores to boost footfall and compete with internet shopping.
“The world is changing very fast. Given that the world is moving online, all non-food retailers are having to work out what the new ways of satisfying customers are.” Street said.
John Lewis is currently trialling Kuoni travel concessions in four of its shops as well as “beauty retreats” – a service Street says shoppers cannot get online – which in most cases fill otherwise redundant space.
It has also been working on bringing John Lewis and Waitrose together under one roof – something Street concedes it could have done sooner.
In June the group launched the first Little Waitrose convenience store within a John Lewis in Watford. It is already having a “halo-effect”, with the branch outperforming other department stores, Street said.
John Lewis is not alone in putting space to better use. Tesco last week unveiled changes at its Tesco Extra in Watford including its recently acquired restaurant chain Giraffe, a Harris + Hoole cafe and a Euphorium bakery.
Debenhams is replacing office space at its flagship London Oxford Street with a restaurant, cafe and bistro as part a £25m overhaul.
As well as making space work harder, retailers would benefit from the Treasury conducting a review of business rates, Street said in a separate interview with The Sunday Times.