My Week: Simon Fowler

The managing director of John Lewis's Peter Jones department store keeps staff and shoppers motivated during the busy Christmas season


Monday


I've been the managing director of Peter Jones, part of John Lewis, for five months but worked for the company for 23 years now.

The shop opens at 9.30am; at 9.20 we have a meeting. All the employees (or partners, as we call them) gather and I give them an update of how trade was the previous week. Last week, John Lewis generated £102m. Everyone is thrilled. I have a leadership meeting with my team at 10am every day to update ourselves on staffing and daily targets. I also spend a lot of time talking to partners about what makes their day tick. This takes about 70 or 80 per cent of my time: communication and engagement are top priority. In the evening I go to a private viewing of a gallery in Marylebone followed by an evening meal with my management office team for Christmas.

Tuesday

I see my senior leadership team today and discuss operating plans and brainstorm on the key areas that we need to build: partner, customer and profit. I go and see the director of the Saatchi Gallery across the way, an opportunity to talk about how our businesses might be able to work together in the future. We're also building links with the National Gallery and I have lunch with someone from there today.

Wednesday

There's a really good buzz in store and everyone feels very energetic and engaged with Christmas coming. One of the great things in retail is when you see strong results coming through as a consequence of the work you're putting in; it makes the work feel that much more worthwhile. I suppose John Lewis is doing so well partly because the general population feels a little bit jaded by the constant discussion of the recession, but I think they've also become very savvy shoppers and are looking for great service, great value and a great environment in which to shop.

Thursday

We have launched classical calm, an idea we've been working on with the Royal College of Music. Every day from 4pm to 7pm until Christmas, we're holding mini pop-up concerts around the shop. We have harpists, string quartets and vocal quartets. We've conducted some questionnaires to run the theory that classical music releases sufficient endorphins to remove stress at this busy time of year. Eighty per cent of respondents agree it's working. We also have some free shopper treatments including shoulder massages and mini makeovers.

Friday

Our retired partners come in this morning for Christmas lunch and drinks. When people join John Lewis, they tend to work with us for a long time; when they retire we like to keep a sense of community with them. It's great fun catching up. I have to work the whole weekend for what I hope will be our second busiest week of the year so it's a quiet Friday night for me.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness