John Lewis searches for digital retail innovation

Published on: 3rd March 2014

John Lewis is backing a Silicon Roundabout-style technology incubator, JLab, to develop the next big thing for its stores.jlab300

The JLab incubator trial will offer start-ups office space and advice before backing the winner with £50,000 and store roll-out. John Lewis’s retail director, Andrew Murphy, said the group was looking for ways to better knit together the shopping experience in stores and online, and for new ways to communicate with customers. He said: “We know customers value being able to shop with John Lewis by phone, in shops and online, and anything which enhances or simplifies that experience is of interest to us.”

The digital workshop, which launches in June, is a partnership with technology entrepreneur Stuart Marks, who has built up and sold several technology firms and runs an investment fund investing in start-ups. The incubation period will run until September with five start-up companies offered office space and advice from other well-known tech entrepreneurs. The search starts on Monday with applicants invited to apply via the website

The new project comes ahead of the publication of John Lewis Partnership’s annual results on Thursday, when the employee-owned group is expected to reveal a cut in the annual bonus handed out to staff. All permanent employees receive the same percentage payout, which is likely to be 14%-15% compared with 17% last year.

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