Like nearly each different participant on the excessive avenue, John Lewis is battling a disaster that has turbocharged customers’ stampede to purchase over the web.
A part of Dame Sharon White’s response is straight out of the business playbook. Extra outlets might shut, she mentioned, promoting on-line is essential and the grand outdated division chain will goal do extra of it. No surprises there.
However that’s the place normality ends. Dame Sharon is clearly prepared to strive a raft of unconventional concepts in her battle to reinvigorate the chain – from changing into a residential landlord to stocking second-hand gadgets.
There’s even a plan to double-down on gardening within the chairman’s manifesto – the most well-liked thought with John Lewis workers.
And combined in with the daring new technique is speak of selling equality and sustainable residing – noble goals that business observers pressured will solely be achievable whether it is matched by a ruthless deal with maximising earnings.
“Horticulture, the place did that come from? Haven’t they acquired sufficient issues? It’s a bit bonkers,” mentioned Richard Hyman, an unbiased retail analyst.
“To be able to have the permission to have a inexperienced, sustainable agenda, in keeping with the normal John Lewis values, you might have to have the ability to drive revenues.
“That offers you the permission to develop these values. If your enterprise faces an existential menace you want some business options initially.”
The plan is in stark distinction with the corporate’s resolution to promote 1,200 acres of land as a part of its Leckford Property in Hampshire to a personal purchaser earlier this yr, simply earlier than Dame Sharon took over.
The deal was a part of an £18m transaction, in keeping with Firms Home accounts paperwork for one among its subsidiaries, which additionally included a earlier property sale.
Whereas the mutual has had some help from exterior advisers, a lot of the proposals had been a cross-pollination of initiatives put ahead by suppliers, its personal employees and clients.