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John Lewis Goes Upmarket With New Beauty Lead Hire

WWD
WWD
 2022-11-30
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LONDON — There’s a changing of the guard at British department store John Lewis , which has been undergoing change since May 2021.

The latest hire, Heena Mohammed, is the business’s new beauty lead, an ex- Net-a-porter employee with 16 years of experience at the online luxury retailer across ready-to-wear and beauty . Her latest role with the company was senior merchandiser before leaving for John Lewis last April.

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“It’s obviously very different coming from doing digital strategies and then doing store strategies. But John Lewis is all about customers and so it’s building that trust and kind of layering everything around that customer proposition,” Mohammed told WWD in her first interview since joining the company.

At Net-a-porter , Mohammed’s core responsibility was to take beauty from its infancy and build on it and launch brands. She was the first to bring Pat McGrath to the U.K. market after meeting her at The Ritz in Paris and introduced newer brands to the platform, such as Rose Inc. by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley .

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John Lewis on Oxford Street.

Mohammed has been tasked with being the bridge between online and in-store experiences. Her hire is an indication of John Lewis’ strategy to go upmarket and chase after beyond its middle-class customers.

The company in 2020 closed eight of its stores, including one at Birmingham’s Grand Central center that cost 35 million pounds to build and only survived five years.

“My vision is to basically give customers that 360 kind of experience,” said Mohammed, who lists the brands that John Lewis stocks, from Chanel and The Ordinary to Sunday Riley.

Internal footfall numbers reveal that younger audiences are visiting the stores more often. Mohammed cited shopping there with her teenage daughter and their friends.

“I want to build on this upcoming cooler, niche, younger brands,” said Mohammed of her ambitions. She’s targeting brands that deliver makeup infused with skin care, naming Rose Inc. again.

There’s a solid appetite for sustainable products with more fragrance brands launching refillable stations. Mohammed hints that refillable moisturizers are where the beauty market is heading and she’s keen to bring the idea to John Lewis.

Beauty at John Lewis is an add-on that’s not to be underestimated — its customers come into the stores to buy technical appliances and interiors who then stumble upon beauty. “They know that if they buy a product today and it doesn’t work out, we will sort them out. It’s that trust they have in us,” said Mohammed.

For 2023, the main activations at John Lewis beauty are improving the goodie boxes and competitions, with the retailer recently partnering with Prada on its new fragrance Paradoxe. Both programs are available to customers who have signed up to the brand’s online initiative. Mohammed wants to home in more on offering products that speak to customers of all age groups.

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