The Long Game

Karen Matthew

Karen Matthew is head of branch at John Lewis Newcastle. Karen began at the company as a graduate trainee in the Edinburgh store 32 years ago, before leaving to run her own business. Four years later, Karen returned to John Lewis to lead the brand’s new @home concept, which was established in 2009. As head of branch at Newcastle, Karen is responsible for all aspects of the store operations, including setting the vision and direction for the branch’s 518 members of staff

PAST

Retail was a very different world, back when I first started working at John Lewis 32 years ago. Of course, there was no online shopping back then and many of our shops were yet to take on the John Lewis name, so John Lewis Newcastle was actually known as Bainbridge. The stores were also closed on Sundays and Mondays and the brand did very little advertising. However, there has been a core value of service that has always remained at the heart of the John Lewis Partnership – something that is very unique to the business – and even though products and shopping habits are forever evolving, this is something we are committed to maintaining.

 

PRESENT

Last year, John Lewis celebrated its 150th anniversary and now boasts 45 shops, with several more in the pipeline. As a retailer we have grown and developed with the changing climate and today we are committed to ‘omnichannel’ retailing, reflecting the way our shoppers like to shop and engage with us.

As ever, customer expectations remain high and we work hard to give John Lewis Newcastle shoppers the very best experience. In addition to this, we offer click and collect, faster deliveries and extended opening hours in support of Newcastle’s Alive After Five campaign, to make it easier and cheaper for people to visit the city after hours.

Career opportunities with John Lewis are as strong as ever. I’m happy to say that, similarly to when I started, John Lewis is still at the forefront of upskilling young people, thanks to its apprenticeship and graduate schemes.

 

FUTURE

Technology will continue to influence the way we shop and the products we shop for. In its annual Retail Report, John Lewis identified a new breed of consumer: the Master Shopper, to whom the future ultimately belongs.

This shopper is savvy and knows how to find the right product at the right price, available how and when they want it. As a result, our shops will continue to become more diverse, featuring new and exciting experiences, products and services for our shoppers.

At John Lewis Newcastle we are already embracing the innovation sought by the Master Shopper and will continue to do so into the coming years. In the past six months we have opened two new food and drinks offerings – Neapolitan pizza restaurant, Rossopomodoro, and juice bar, Joe & The Juice.

As ever, community will remain at the heart of our branches. John Lewis does not operate in isolation but we continue to build our working relationships with local businesses through ‘John Lewis for Business’ and to play a strong part in the local community.

 

Timeline

1983: Joined John Lewis as a graduate trainee

1989: Appointed staff trainer in Aberdeen

2000: Appointed development manager

2001: Left the John Lewis Partnership to set up own business

2005: Returned to John Lewis when appointed space merchandise manager

2009: Led the @home project

2013: Appointed as senior manager for director of selling

2014: Appointed as head of branch John Lewis Newcastle

 

John Lewis represented omnichannel (or multi-channel) retailing where the customer can shop seamlessly online, over the phone or in store

www.johnlewis.com

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