John Lewis trials mini stores at Waitrose sites

Sharon White’s new plans for the beauty seller could see its position on the high street change for good

John Lewis’ troubling trade hit headlines last week after reports suggested up to eight stores could be earmarked for permanent closure, putting 2,000 jobs at risk.

However, quietly in the background, the world-renowned retailer opened up three mini-stores at a selection of Waitrose destinations last month to little fanfare.

The new spaces are trial versions of Sharon White’s new John Lewis product in Waitrose concept, which was initially road tested in Lincoln and Lymington Waitrose branches, UK, stores more than a year ago.

However, the new spaces at Horley, Wallingford and Godalming, in south England, are test driving several versions of the retailer’s new shopping idea.

At the Wallingford Waitrose, John Lewis has added a dedicated department offering more than 700 products, a spokesperson for the brand told Cosmetics Business.

Meanwhile at the Horley and Godalming spaces, more than 500 products have been put on sale within the general merchandise aisles.

However, the Horley shop has also spread quintessentially John Lewis products within relevant grocery areas, such as wine glasses within the wine department and cafetieres next to ground coffee.

The new local format – inspired by US chain Nordstrom – is part of White’s vision to overhaul John Lewis’ presence on the high street, according to The Sunday Times, which traditionally has boasted gargantuan spaces in busy shopping destinations.

Like many of its competitors, John Lewis has not come away from the pandemic unscathed.

As well as the added eight stores not expected to open when restrictions of the England-wide lockdown are lifted, eight stores have already been boarded up for good, including its Birmingham Bullring shopping centre destination.

Despite a dramatic shift in its retail strategy, the retailer has teased a new era of beauty brands will join its portfolio in 2021.

John Lewis signed a retail deal with It Cosmetics in January 2021, however, discussions are ongoing for its new partners.

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