Learning from John Lewis

Andy Street- John Lewis
Staff, students alumni and guests from the local business community were recently treated to a guest lecture by Andy Street, Managing Director of John Lewis

Andy Street, believes strategy, authenticity and marketing have been key to his company remaining a consistently good performer through difficult economic times.

In a talk to business delegates at Aston Business School, Andy Street outlined key long-term commitments for John Lewis; the store’s origins; and how it fared during the 2008 financial crisis. In particular he focused on how he believes John Lewis has nurtured and developed a ‘unique’ long term business model.

Difficulties overcome by the Company included significant drops in retail sales and overall profits along with other companies during 2008. In deciding how to move forward together, the watchword for Andy was ‘doing the right thing for the long-term’.  He said this meant:

·         Resolving that there was to be no compromise on quality, service or value

·         Taking tough decisions, including making roles redundant (but re-deploying 60% of staff involved)

·         Investing for growth, for example in the development of johnlewis.com, in order to give partners confidence for the future.

Essential long-term business goals outlined by Andy, which he believes has seen the company progress further since 2008, included;

·         Investment – including a flagship new store in Birmingham City Centre, forming part of the City’s regeneration of New Street Station

·         Innovation and brand leveraging such as the introduction of insurance products

·         Defending and reinforcing their services and reputation

·         Increasing personalisation of service to customers, rejecting a mass-market approach

Andy was clear that great leadership was crucial as the company navigated the crisis.  He cited honest and consistent communication, prompt, visible and considered action, emotional connection and reflective empathy with all partners, and the ability to inspire and give hope for the long-term.

Andy stressed that the one word he wanted people to understand about John Lewis was ‘trust’ - creating a ‘values based brand designed to resonate with people as a constant in a changing world’.

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