About John Lewis
Quality goods, never knowingly undersold
Similar British Department Stores
A famous British department store specialising in good quality products sold with classy customer service. M&S sell women's and men's clothing plus a big range of furnishings, homeware products and garden furniture besides well regarded food goods.
Don't buy anywhere until you have double checked the prices at Argos. It may have a reputation for cheaper goods but these the same products you will buy at more expensive shops. They also stock massive range of bargain items for the home and for leisure.
El Corte Inglés UK
Maybe not the department store you would associate with British shopping. El Corte Inglés the Spanish store chain are very popular especially with their online website in the UK selling clothes, sportswear and homewares with deliver worldwide.
A Little About
John Lewis sell a comprehensive choice of gift cards. They come in the form of E-gift cards which can be sent by email to your self or lucky recipient. The other option is the traditional plastic credit card style of gift card. These gift cards can be used to purchase goods in store or on the John Lewis website. Experience gift cards are also available if you want to present someone with a selection of in-store treatments or recommended products.
It’s basically a John Lewis loyalty card when you spend a certain amount of money you will get access to lots of shopping benefits. These include gift vouchers, membership only shopping events and early entrance to clearance sales. Don’t confuse the my membership card with the Partnership card which is a John Lewis credit card where you can still earn points every time you shop.
Yes collection can be made for free on orders over £30 from John Lewis stores or from partner stores like Waitrose.
A Little About
The early history of John Lewis
Born on Town Street in the Somersetshire market town Shepton Mallet in the year 1836. John Lewis’s life was certainly not easy compared to todays standards. In 1844 at 8 years of age sadly young John was to become an orphan when his father died. He and his siblings were saved from the workhouse and taken into the care of extended family. John and two of his sisters were believed to of been brought up mostly by Miss Ann Speed his aunt who owned a hat shop.
At the age of 14 John Lewis began his drapery apprenticeship with a local draper in Wells Somerset. He also had other apprenticeships one notably in Liverpool where he was dismissed for a fist fight. He eventually made the move to the smog of London in 1856 and began working for prominent Oxford Street draper Peter Robinson as a salesman. Peter Robinson’s drapery shop (Topshop) would eventually be taken over by Burtons who are now the Arcadia group chaired by Philip Green of ill repute.
John got his head down and worked his way up the ladder to become the youngest silk buyer in London. In 1864 he declined the offer to become a partner in Peter Robinson. Choosing instead to go it alone and open his own shop. The foundation for the John Lewis department store chain began at 132 Oxford Street London in 1864 as a small drapers shop. Trade on the first day of business earned John a grand total of 16s 4d. In 1884 John married Eliza Baker a teacher and one of the first women to study at Cambridge University. They had two sons John Spedan Lewis and Oswald Lewis.
The foundations of John Lewis
The early days were hard work for John Lewis and establishing a shop amongst great rivals like Debenhams, Whiteley’s and Selfridges was difficult. On his side was the fact Victorian England was a progressive time for the new concept of department stores. The shop prospered and expanded on the same site which was renumbered to 286 Oxford Street. It began to form an all-embracing department store occupying 6 floors with a renaissance style impressive facade. John Lewis had become a major force in the retail transformation sweeping Victorian Britain.
John Lewis the original founder had a reputation for being a non conformist and litigiously combative. During the building of the department store empire he was in legal dispute with the landlord Baron Howard de Walden. This centred around what he could do and not do with the shop premises. In 1903 he was sent to Brixton prison for three weeks after being charged with contempt of court. This dispute rolled on for over 20 years to the dismay of his sons.
On hearing of the death of Peter Jones a respected rival store owner in 1905. John Lewis decided to buy the Peter Jones Sloane Square store in Chelsea. Knowing it was in a great location and fearing a competitor might beat him to it. He went on a mission, personally walking from Oxford Street over to Sloane Square with £20,000 in thousand pound banknotes in his pocket and bought the store outright there and then.
Lewis’s two sons Spedan the oldest and Oswald both lived quite sheltered lives and were well educated at Westminster School, Oswald also went to Oxford. On their 21st birthdays they were both given quarter shares in department store valued at £50,000. Oswald was to have a career as a barrister and in politics becoming the Conservative MP for Colchester.
Spedan spent his working life in the family business starting at 19 years of age. In 1914 John senior gave the reigns of the Peter Jones store which had retained its original name to John junior at the age of 29. The stores original owner Peter Jones must take a lot of the credit for the way Spedan developed the business. There is a lot said about Spedan and his ideas but the store Peter Jones created had more in common with the John Lewis ethos of today. Peter Jones led the way with employee welfare introducing generous bonuses at Christmas and providing staff accommodation above the shop. He also provided recreation for staff in the form of a well stocked library and a piano plus billiards tables, all for the use of employees. Jones’s influence on the way the John Lewis’s department store treated staff to the clientele and customer service given, can all be found in the roots and legacy left by Peter Jones.
The start of the Partnership
The death of John Lewis senior aged 92 in 1928 Stepan took complete control of both shops. He sold his fathers Hampstead home and bought Oswald’s shares in the company. It was time for Stepan to implement fully the radical plans for the business he had been formulating. The wealth-fare and happiness of his employees were central to this plan. He brought both department stores together setting up the John Lewis Partnership and structured a workers cooperative for all staff members. Profits would be shared among the employees now known as partners. A constitution was wrote up outlining the principles and rules, establishing a system of ‘rights and responsibilities’ for all partners which the partnership still operates by today. There was an in-house magazine published where the staff could have input anonymously and that’s still running today.
Spedan did not relinquish full control until he new these experimental practices worked. He kept control of the business until the 1950s when he made the final trust settlement handing over complete control to the Partnership. In the intervening years the John Lewis Partnership acquired other stores namely Jessop & Son a department store in Nottingham and Waitrose a chain of grocery food shops.
At the age of 70 in 1955 Spedan Lewis retired, he regretted this decision and later tried to overturn his retirement. He died 8 years later in 1963 leaving a legacy that threatened the traditional way business’s do retailing.
John Lewis Department Store facts and trivia
John Lewis supplied the fabric for the state rooms on the HMS Titanic, a sample can still be seen at the John Lewis Heritage Centre.
Spedan Lewis’s middle name was in honour of Anne Speed the aunt who helped raise John Lewis senior when he became an orphan. The house in Hampstead where they grew up was also called Spedan Tower.
Amy Johnson the record breaking aviator was employed as a sales assistant at the Sloane Square Peter Jones store. This was before she got her pilots license and went on to fly solo from England to Australia.
Lewis’s very first shop was a converted old tobacconist’s on Oxford street he leased and converted into a store.
You know Christmas is here when the John Lewis department store their Christmas advert. It’s now become a tradition since as far back as 2007. They are usually received with indifference, penny pinching annoyance or soul stirring intense emotion. BBC look at the history of department stores.