British up-market department store chain John Lewis has expanded its internet shop to serving Belgium today. This is just a first step in this country, as the chain has quite some more plans if the introduction proves successful.
Expansion to Belgium now, the rest of the EU next autumn
The British, Irish, French, Danish and Swedes are already familiar with John Lewis, and now the Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain can enjoy the chain’s services – with the US, Canada, Australia, New-Zealand, Norway and most of the remaining EU countries joining the club next autumn.
No other currencies or languages accepted – for now
This is just a first step for the British retailer, who plans to expand its empire to the rest of the world step by step. While the current web shop is monolithic and monolingual, the plan includes localisation so that each country will have the web site available in its own language(s). Once that step is complete, the chain hopes to open physical stores in continental Europe too.
For the time being however, the website will be uniquely British – it will even not accept payment in euros. “The acceptance of the European currency will be included in the localisation process that also includes the introduction of other languages to our web shop”, said online manager Emma McLaughlin to the Financiële Telegraaf.
From Oxford Street to the rest of the world
John Lewis’s first store opened in Oxford Street, London in 1864 and since then, the chain has expanded to 37 British stores and one web shop. After Britain, John Lewis now wants to conquer Europe and the rest of the world. The first step is creating a web presence in these countries: “To make a more significant investment, we need to be confident that the demand is worth it”, commercial director Andrea O’Donnell told the Financial Times in February, when the plan still was to expand to the rest of the EU in one go.
Johnlewis.com realised a £567 million (€635 million) turnover in 2010, 38% more than the year before. This year, the group hopes to cross the £700 million threshold (€784 million) and aims at a foreign share of 1 to 5%.