National Theatre trains staff at John Lewis’ 50th branch

More than 500 John Lewis staff are being trained in theatrical skills by actors working for the National Theatre.

The aim of the training is to help the employees deliver ‘outstanding customer service’ at the retailer’s new London department store at Westfield shopping centre in White City, which opens on March 20.

Every member of staff – from those working in the stockroom to the head of branch – is taking part in the coaching, which covers voice and body language skills.

John Lewis customer experience director Peter Cross said: “Retailers have talked about ‘retail theatre’ but as shopping habits change, this has never been more important.

“We’re investing in this training with one of the world’s leading theatre companies because actors are outstanding communicators – and that’s an important element in offering outstanding personal service.”

The training is run by Theatreworks, the National Theatre’s training service. The sessions are led by experienced actors including Sarah Thom who regularly works for BBC Radio 4, playing the character of Joan in the long-running comedy, ‘Clare in the Community’. Her TV credits include ‘Taboo’, Home Fires’, ‘Not Going Out’, ‘Doctors’ and ‘Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle’.

John Lewis’ new 230,000sq ft branch, which has cost £33 million to build, is the anchor tenant of a new £600 million extension of the west London shopping centre.

The shop will stock over 350,000 lines including home, fashion and technology, over four floors. It will also include features not offered in other John Lewis London shops, including Loved& Found – a stand-alone boutique for new and contemporary brands – and &Beauty, John Lewis’ spa concept. In addition, the fashion floor will showcase a new look, including a dedicated personal styling studio. This is one of the 23 services that customers will be able to book via the new Experience Desk, which will offer a concierge style service to help shoppers make the most of the shop and its services.

White City will be John Lewis’ 50th branch. It currently operates 49 John Lewis shops across the UK: 35 department stores, 12 John Lewis ‘at home’ stores and shops at St Pancras International and Heathrow Terminal 2, as well as johnlewis.com.

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