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John Lewis boss: There's still a role for shops

John Lewis boss: There's still a role for shops
From BBC - March 19, 2018

The High Street is not dead, the boss of department store chain John Lewis has said ahead of its 50th shop opening.

The new shop comes amid a shopping slowdown that has seen a host of big businesses shut stores or go bust.

Paula Nickolds said there was "still a role for shops", but what customers wanted from them was changing.

The opening comes after the chain reported earlier this month that profit had fallen by over a fifth last year.

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Ms Nickolds said shops had to offer experiences and services to stand out amid low consumer confidence and competition from online-only retailers.

Its new store at the Westfield shopping centre in White City west London will offer experiences online rivals such as Amazon cannot offer such as fashion style talks, cookery classes and beauty treatments.

It will also have an "experience desk" offering customers consultations on things from home design to travel advice. All 500 of the shop's staff have had theatre training from the National Theatre to help them offer better customer service.

In its annual results, John Lewis chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said 2017 had been a "challenging year", as expected, with "subdued" consumer demand.

Ms Nickolds said the weaker profits reflected the "tough conditions" for retailers and that whilst consumers were continuing to shop they were being "more savvy" about what they bought.

High Street slowdown

On Monday aCarpetright became the latest chain reported to be on the verge of seeking a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which would allow to it to shut loss-making stores and secure deep discounts on rental costs.

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