John Lewis staff take role in marketing, retailer to add design jobs

The headline news from John Lewis’s results this week may have been about falling profits and lower bonuses for its staff, but there was more hidden beneath the surface.


John Lewis


On the plus side, the retailer wants to get its staff more involved in marketing via their own social media accounts. And it also plans to invest heavily in design staff. But there's a downside too with the potential for further redundancies to come.

On the marketing front, its plan follows the trial carried out in six of its stores before Christmas. The trial involved around 100 staff members and they shared special contents on social sites such as Instagram and Twitter, using the hashtag #wearepartners.

And the results seemed to please John Lewis boss Paula Nickolds as they generated 9 million impressions over three months. So the strategy is now being widened out to involve more staff.

Nickolds said that the unique nature of the company, in which it is owned by staff, made this a logical move. After all, the best brand ambassador is perhaps the person who's going to earn more money if the company does well.

She also said that the company isn't taking heavy control of what the staff members say as, again, their ownership of the business means they're more likely to say good things than, say, staff without a stake in the firm.

And staff were very much the focus after the company announced its results with a press conference expanding on information in those results about new buying, brand manager, technologist and design roles.

The company is to create 80 such roles which is perhaps unsurprising given its heavy focus in recent periods on its own labels. It wants own label sales to accelerate even faster than their current fast growth and to make up a bigger proportion of total sales than they do now.

So we'll see 50% more designers and 70% more technologists, the latter being a sensible move given the huge focus on online sales at John Lewis.

But it wasn't all good news. Chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said he expects staff numbers will “continue to decline” after the company cut headcount by 1,440 last year. “That will be a function of the changing use of technology but also longer contracted hours [and] the number of partners will come down as a consequence of that,” he said, without giving extra details.

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