Members of staff at the new flagship John Lewis store are being put through a rather unusual training programme ahead of its opening this month in the Westfield London expansion.
The 500 new partners are being trained in theatrical skills by actors working for the National Theatre.
The aim is to help the staff deliver outstanding customer service at the retailer’s new shop.
John Lewis White City opens on March 20, and marks the opening of the new £600 million shopping centre extension, making it Europe's largest.
John Lewis says the initiative forms part of its plans to respond to growing customer expectation for its shops to be inspiring places where customers go for style advice, exciting events and beauty treatments, as well as to buy products.
Every partner recruited to work at the new shop, from those in the stockroom to the head of branch, is undergoing the training, run by Theatreworks, the National Theatre’s training service.
The training covers voice and body language skills used by actors to communicate authentically with confidence.
Peter Cross, customer experience director for John Lewis 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 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.
She has also appeared on TV with credits including Taboo, Home Fires, Not Going Out, Doctors and Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle.
John Lewis White City will cover four floors and include features not offered in its other London shops.
The fashion floor will also showcase a new look including a dedicated personal styling studio. It is one of 23 services customers will be able to book at the store.
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