John Lewis to offer ‘experience playgrounds’ in bid to reinvent stores

£3m spent on Southampton ‘concept store’ with rooftop orchard and barista workshops

John Lewis will this week unveil a radical new-look department store that has replaced selling space with “experience playgrounds” where shoppers can hone barista or pasta-making skills or hang out in a rooftop orchard and farm shop.

If successful, the revamped Southampton shop – which opens on Tuesday – could provide a prototype for other John Lewis stores. It is the employee-owned retailer’s latest crack at reinventing the department store amid a sea change in shopping habits that has forced major rivals Debenhams and House of Fraser into rescue deals.

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