The John Lewis Partnership which owns the iconic John Lewis department store, announced over the weekend that its entire staff of partners - 84,700 people - will be receiving a 17% bonus based on the performance of the company which also owns Waitrose. JLP's Chairman has recently contributed a column in The Times on the topic of employee ownership, which he attributes to the consistent growth they've seen of late.
But it isn't just a focus on employees, an acute understanding of their customer is also evident with double-digit increases in same-store sales, in addition to a 10% increase in UK clothing market share. Peter Ruis, John Lewis' buying and brand director told the Guardian, "Historically we have been told that our customers are more affluent and a bit older, but increasingly research has shown that to be a bit simplistic". The "sweet spot" is among 35 to 44 years old, and the store's cross-channel combination of home product, technology, beauty and fashion assortments reflect how that urban customer is shopping. In 2012, Electronics, Home and Technology saw an increase of 29% year-over-year, and the online channel grew by 41% - both figures significantly outperforming the industry.
Heading into 2013, capital spending on square footage and a boost in private label business are key areas of focus. Ruis is also likely to bring in a new designer name for menswear, but is maintaining focus in ensuring it will be the right name, "I'd hate to have 20 or 30 of them and lose our point of view."
"The pace and quality of innovation and initiatives has been extremely strong and is one of the central reasons for its outperformance" says Neil Saunders of Conlumino.