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The John Lewis ‘nightmare’ is a dream for many of us

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The John Lewis ‘nightmare’ is a dream for many of us: Britons still love the department store chain… no matter what Boris’s consort might say

There are slurs, and then there’s the ignominy suffered by one of Britain’s most popular department stores following Carrie Symonds‘s arrival in Downing Street and a guest’s description of the decor as a ‘John Lewis nightmare’.

The shame of it. But not for long. Consumers rallied because this was an attack on the spiritual home of Middle England; a mugging of sensible tastes and aspirations, an insult to vast swathes of the population for whom walking into a John Lewis store is like sinking into a hot bath on a cold night.

Where has the Duchess of Cambridge been known to go for the odd spot of shopping?

Fresh: John Lewis's Modern Mediterranean range. British consumers have rallied around the much loved department store chain following remarks from Boris Johnson's girlfriend

Fresh: John Lewis’s Modern Mediterranean range. British consumers have rallied around the much loved department store chain following remarks from Boris Johnson’s girlfriend

To Peter Jones, of course, the John Lewis outpost on the King’s Road in Chelsea, an elegant but soothing emporium which its clientele call ‘PJ’s.’

So loved is the John Lewis brand that after news broke last month that the 170-year-old Sheffield store would close, fans began pinning heart-shaped love letters to its windows. 

And not for nothing did the late Poet Laureate John Betjeman say that when the end of the world came he wanted to be in the haberdashery department of Peter Jones ‘because nothing unpleasant could ever happen there’.

John Lewis is like a family member you moan about. Fine to do so but you don’t much like it if somebody else is criticising him or her.

What’s more, let’s not forget that the John Lewis Partnership is the largest employee-owned business in the UK. 

Success from 1864 to 2021

John Spedan Lewis introduced the 'Never Knowingly Undersold' slogan in 1925

John Spedan Lewis introduced the ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ slogan in 1925

John Lewis, the founder of the chain, was just 28 when he opened the first store in Oxford Street in 1864. Haberdashery and textiles for homes and clothing were the foundation of the business.

Lewis offered better value than competitors, making a profit of 25 per cent on the wholesale price of goods; the norm was 33 per cent.

Lewis who was described as ‘irascible, but highly principled’ was an adept deal-maker.

When the Peter Jones store in Chelsea began to fail in 1905, he walked into the shop and handed over a wad of cash to buy it on the spot from the owners.

His son John Spedan Lewis – who introduced the ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ slogan in 1925 – believed that more democratic practices would boost sales and employee welfare.

The first bonuses to staff were paid in 1920.

John Spedan Lewis established the Partnership in 1929, signing away his family’s ownership rights. Waitrose, a grocery business set up in 1904, was bought by John Lewis in 1937. It has a 5 per cent share of UK supermarket sales.

John Lewis began to sell furniture in 1918. In the 1950s, the company worked with emerging designers such as Robin and Lucienne Day, one of whose designs, a steel and plywood dining chair, is still on sale today (£340).

The online division john lewis.com was established in 2001. Online now accounts for 60 to 70 per cent of turnover.

John Spedan Lewis was an early believer in the promotion of women to key roles in the workplace.

Today Pippa Wicks is executive director and Sharon White is chairman.

Earlier this year, Sharon White said: ‘We are going through the greatest scale of change in the partnership’s 156-year history.’

The 78,000 staff are partners and co-owners who have a say in how the company is run and are entitled to a share in profits, although this cherished bonus was scrapped for this year.

John Lewis — which has been around for 156 years — has been navigating choppy waters long before any attempts at capsizing this once-trusty vessel.

During the pandemic, the company has cut its number of shops from 51 to 34, leaving the inhabitants of cities such as Aberdeen, Peterborough and York, as well as Sheffield, to mourn the passing of this retail stalwart.

The Never Knowingly Undersold pledge is ‘under review’, but no more store closures are planned for the time being.

Instead, it has launched its new Anyday brand, a range of 2,400 home, technology and baby pieces, created by the company’s own designers and costing 20 per cent to 40 per cent less than its other collections.

The aim is to win back the faithful (but Carrie presumably is a lost cause) who have strayed to such homeware and furniture rivals as Dunelm, a £2.9 billion company set up in 1979 and Wayfair, a giant American online operation now fast expanding in the UK, thanks to its tech expertise.

As part of its recovery plan, John Lewis says that it will be turning some of the unwanted space in Oxford Street and other stores into housing.

This will be an opportunity to live above the shop.

For some John Lewis lovers, this arrangement would not be too close for comfort, but prove to be their ideal home.

Household items to suit every budget 

Sumptuous sofas

The Anyday Sweep three-seater sofa (in two colours only: blue and grey) is elegant and uncluttered and just £499.

The Booth two-seater sofa in opal dark teal, £899, (pictured) or from £1,499 if you want leather

The Booth two-seater sofa in opal dark teal, £899, (pictured) or from £1,499 if you want leather

The Booth three-seater has the same clean lines and costs from £999 for fabric upholstery (in a choice of 168 fabrics, Booth two-seater in opal dark teal, £899, pictured) or from £1,499 if you want leather.

The Platform 5 corner sofa (with side table) is the spacious, stylish seating of which you dream when living in a tiny flat. It costs from £3,799.

Smart dining

The pleasingly informal Anyday Anton oak table seats six on two benches and costs just £399. It’s Scandi cool for less. 

Scandi cool: The pleasingly informal Anyday Anton oak table seats six on two benches and costs just £399

Scandi cool: The pleasingly informal Anyday Anton oak table seats six on two benches and costs just £399

The Gallery Direct Madrid in walnut also seats six (£799). 

Its curved, mid-century style makes you want to give a dinner party and ask friends to dress up (no trackpants, or hoodies, thank you).

The Matthew Hilton extending table for Case Cross (£2,645) can accommodate as many as 14 people, but it’s unobtrusively smart rather than imposingly grand. Just the thing for brunch, or Christmas dinner.

Bedding for all

John Lewis inspires a sense of calm. This is either boring or reassuring, depending on your view, but also why its bedding tends to be associated with a better night’s sleep. 

Brighter bedding: Mustard cushion £5

Brighter bedding: Mustard cushion £5 

Apart from cushions such as this mustard one (£5), you can choose between the Anyday hollowfill duvet (£10 to £18), the duck feather and down duvet (£40 to £75) — or invest in peaceful slumber by ordering a dual- tog Bavarian goosedown duvet, made by Herbert Parkinson. 

This is John Lewis’s very own bedding maker, based in Darwen, Lancashire. Prices range from £600 to £760, for a king-size, super-king or emperor.

Is this Downing Street-type extravagance? Not if you consider that the cost starts at around £1.60 a night over a year, which is the sort of sum that John Lewis, the company’s founder, used to sell his luxury wares more than 150 years ago.  

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Oscar-winning La La Land star Emma Stone places three-bedroom Malibu home up for sale for $4.2M

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Oscar-winning La La Land star Emma Stone places three-bedroom Malibu home up for sale for $4.2 million

  • Stone, 33, purchased the oceanfront property for $3.25 in 2018
  • The home spans more than 1,700 sq. feet over 3.2 acres of property in the luxe Southern California area 
  • The home includes exquisite views of the Los Angeles cityscape, Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island 
  • Stone also owns houses in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas; and an apartment in Manhattan 

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Emma Stone is looking to sell her three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Malibu, California for $4.2 million.

The 33-year-old actress has listed the mid-century bungalow home on the real estate market, about four years after she purchased the oceanfront property for $3.25 in 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The one-story home belonging to the Oscar-winning La La Land star spans more than 1,700 sq. feet over 3.2 acres of property in the luxe Southern California area.

The latest: Emma Stone, 33, is looking to sell her three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Malibu, California for $4.2 million. The Academy Award-winning actress was snapped in Athens, Greece earlier this month

The latest: Emma Stone, 33, is looking to sell her three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Malibu, California for $4.2 million. The Academy Award-winning actress was snapped in Athens, Greece earlier this month 

Sotheby’s International Realty listing agent Eric Lavey, who is the listing agent on the property, described the home to the paper as ‘a classic 1958 California Midcentury hanging over the Pacific’ and ‘the Malibu beach house they would choose for a Nancy Meyers movie.’

The Scottsdale, Arizona-born beauty’s home includes exquisite views of the Los Angeles cityscape, Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island, and is within walking distance of nearby hiking trails and the beach.

The Cruella star’s house, which has been renovated in recent years, has a state-of-the-art kitchen with gold accents.

The living room of the abode is centered around a fireplace encased in a white brick column, as floor-to-ceiling windows in the home allow for sunlight to pour in.

The living room of the abode is centered around a fireplace encased in a white brick column

The living room of the abode is centered around a fireplace encased in a white brick column

The home boasts amazing views of the Pacific Ocean via multiple angles and vantage points

The home boasts amazing views of the Pacific Ocean via multiple angles and vantage points 

The home features a dining area outdoors which is sequestered by eucalyptus and yucca trees

The home features a dining area outdoors which is sequestered by eucalyptus and yucca trees

A dining room in the home sits adjacent to an outdoor patio

A dining room in the home sits adjacent to an outdoor patio 

A bathroom in the home has a standalone bathtub along with a rain shower.

The home features a dining area outdoors which is sequestered by eucalyptus and yucca trees, and a patio with a panoramic view of the coast.

Other amenities the home features includes a recreation room and art studio.

The Cruella star's house, which has been renovated in recent years, has a state-of-the-art kitchen

The Cruella star’s house, which has been renovated in recent years, has a state-of-the-art kitchen 

The home is made of white brick and wood with gold accents and state-of-the-art appliances

The home is made of white brick and wood with gold accents and state-of-the-art appliances 

A dine-in area sits adjacent to the kitchen in the stunning beach home

A dine-in area sits adjacent to the kitchen in the stunning beach home 

In the years since she acquired the home, Stone in 2020 wed writer Dave McCary, 36, and the couple welcomed a baby daughter in March of 2021.

According to the paper, Stone also owns houses in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas; and an apartment in Manhattan.

Lavey told the paper that he expected the house to sell quickly, as there is a scarcity of homes in that price range in Malibu, and residents of other well-heeled Los Angeles locales such as Beverly Hills or Holmby Hills are partial to purchasing smaller beach homes.

A master bedroom in the home outlooks a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean

A master bedroom in the home outlooks a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean 

Floor-to-ceiling windows in the home allow for sunlight to pour into the home

Floor-to-ceiling windows in the home allow for sunlight to pour into the home 

A bathroom in the home includes a rain shower and standalone tub

A bathroom in the home includes a rain shower and standalone tub

A shower in the bathroom has a glass door with gold fixtures

A shower in the bathroom has a glass door with gold fixtures 

A brick-lined patio area boasts a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean

A brick-lined patio area boasts a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean 

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More than 9,000 artists apply for universal basic income scheme

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More than 9,000 artists have applied for a new dedicated basic income scheme which will see successful applicants receive €325 a week.

Minister for the Arts Catherine Martin said there had been a “huge level of enthusiasm” for the scheme and described the plans as a “watershed moment” for the sector.

Assessment of the applications has started and the process will take a number of weeks given the high volume received.

The basic income scheme was launched in April when the Government announced the payment would be made available to 2,000 applicants in total.

The Coalition has said the objective of the scheme is to address the earnings instability that can be associated with the intermittent and sometimes project-based nature of work in the arts.

The process for selecting successful applicants will be non-competitive, so once a person satisfies the eligibility criteria they will be included in a randomised selection process to pick the successful 2,000. It is understood unsuccessful but eligible applicants will be invited to participate in a control group to help with an appraisal of the pilot scheme.

A basic income for artists was the main recommendation of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce set up in 2020 to examine how the sector could adapt and recover from the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The scheme opened for applications on April 12th and closed on Thursday, May 12th.

The Department of Arts said the highest number of applications came from those in the visual arts sector, followed by those involved in music, then film and then literature.

‘Watershed moment’

Speaking to The Irish Times, Ms Martin said it represented “a watershed moment in the funding of artistic practice in Ireland”.

“The new measure makes a statement about our values as a nation – that the voices of artists have been heard and that the arts matter. This is a unique opportunity to research the impact a basic income could have on the arts and to provide the evidence base for a permanent support.

“I am very pleased with the huge level of enthusiasm for the basic income for the arts pilot scheme and am delighted that over 9,000 artists and creative arts workers were willing to participate in this innovate research project.”

Mr Martin said the scheme “heralds a new approach to the way the State funds and recognises her artists and I look forward to seeing the data and findings of the research during the pilot”.

There had been significant interest in the new scheme for artists from other countries, media and practitioners, which indicated the enthusiasm in the arts globally for the move, the Minister added.

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Neinver begins construction of Alpes The Style Outlets (FR)

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NEINVER has resumed construction works at Alpes The Style Outlets, which once completed will mark the company’s 17th outlet centre across 6 European countries. The company broke ground last March and works are advancing on schedule, with the development of three platforms that will house the main building and car park all well underway. Alpes The Style Outlets, which will be NEINVER’s second outlet centre in France, boasts an exceptional location near the Swiss border, close to Geneva and next to key tourist destinations. It will feature 20,400m² of GLA, over 90 boutiques and restaurants providing both local and international cuisine.

 

“France is a strategic market for NEINVER. Our aim is to develop and operate this centre with the local community firmly involved, providing it with an exciting leisure option, while also contributing to improving the region’s economic and social development,” commented Daniel Losantos, NEINVER Chief Executive Officer. “Outlet centres have shown continued resilience, and this development is a clear vote of confidence in the sector and in the opportunity the site offers to brands to further grow their business.”

 

Located 25 minutes from Geneva, the scheme will offer 1,350 parking spaces and will have direct access to the A-40 motorway, a key transport link between France and Switzerland and to popular winter destinations. It will also be easily accessible by high-speed train thanks to the Paris to Geneva connection, with a TGV station located just 5 minutes from the future centre.

 

“We are seeing keen interest from our brand partners in this one-of-a-kind project due to its exciting retail proposition and its unique location, with great brands such as Adidas, Guess and Levi’s already joining the scheme”, said Joan Rouras, NEINVER Leasing and Retail Director. The centre is exceptionally well located in the Grand Genève area, which enjoys a strong purchasing power and high levels of tourism. The region has also seen a spike in population growth in recent years and is expected to continue increasing significantly in the coming years. To attract these customers, we are designing a destination that will feature an exclusive retail mix of sought-after international brands and the best of what the local area has to offer – a compelling offer for any fashion lover or avid sports fan.”

 

Finely tuned to the local landscape, Alpes The Style Outlets will offer an avant-garde atmosphere, combining natural materials such as wood and stone for a contemporary look. In this open mall concept designed in an “Alpine village” style with chalet-style shops and terraces, NEINVER plans to create a promenade destination and a relaxing day-out providing much more than just shopping. Lyon-based SEV Architectures will project monitor the construction under the coordination and supervision of Arcadis, leading global design and consultancy.

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