The John Lewis Partnership has reportedly been investigating the provision of coworking office space within a number of its retail outlets. Though in the early stages, it is suggested that the retail conglomerate may team up with an external facilitator, or roll out the venture self-branded.
A PropertyWeek published article gave insight that the initial sites will be in larger city stores.
So far it has been indicated that first consideration is being given to Newcastle's Intu Eldon Square retail complex. The provision of flexible office space was amongst other possible ventures to utilise unused office space at their disposal.
Though, yet to be financially validated, this initiatives future viability will be decided in the first months of 2018. With the pattern of consumer behaviour heading in an online direction, a majority of large retailers in the department store sector are being faced with unused floor space. As a big name on the high street they are also amongst the biggest providers of online shopping within this sector. Circa 40% of the company’s retail revenue currently comes from online sales.
Existing measures adopted by John Lewis to accommodate unused space include well known cafe and restaurant names. This practice has a good track record within the retail industry for increasing flow of potential customers through their stores.
This initiative by John Lewis, to explore incorporation of office space within their retail outlets, coincides well with the flexible office space provision sectors expanding there need for space by unprecedented amounts.
Nick Riesel, Managing Director for office leasing agency FreeOfficeFinder, recently spoke of the increased demand for serviced offices. He said that he had seen enquiries for serviced and flexible working spaces increase by 22% since 2016. As such it stands to reason that a company such as John Lewis, with numerous locations on the high street with extra room would plan to take advantage of this.
Alongside looking to make the most of their extra space, they are also looking to expand. This year they have several new locations for ready up for store openings, including a new store within a development at Westgate Oxford.
Of the 48 UK retail outlets operated by John Lewis, there are over thirty department stores throughout the UK. In addition to this they have 12 John Lewis Shops, a store at St. Pancras International Station and a store at Heathrow T2, plus their online store.
Throughout 2017 John Lewis spent money investing in technology in order to support its online business and cover for the increased cost of staff. This meant that even though they saw a 4.5% increase in sales compared to the six months before this, they saw operating profits decrease by 31%.
This is largely down to Paula Nickolds, who took over as Managing Director of the John Lewis Partnership in January 2017. It is thought that a number of changes are to be introduced in the future.