This particular post is teeny weeny bit late – sorry all…. I blame the recent glorious summer weather! Endless days of blue skies meant it was simply far too wonderful to spend the days in front of a computer. However, here we are in the fall of 2018 already – the design shows have thrilled us. Decorex, 100% Design and Design Junction, just to name a few, have stimulated our senses in preparation for the next season.
However, not that long ago in July, we were really lucky enough to have the lovely Manoj Jadeja (or MJ as he likes to be known) of the household brand-name John Lewis, very kindly join us at our Saturday networking brunch event. As we have recently discovered for ourselves, not many Interior Designers are aware that John Lewis have a B2B department (John Lewis for Business) which is dedicated to helping Interior Designers and Developers with their projects. MJ gave a really informative talk to our members about why Interior Designers might consider working with John Lewis. We caught up with him later on to find a little bit more about MJ himself…
How long have you worked with John Lewis?
You won’t believe this….24 and a half years! Prior to joining John Lewis B2B, I had worked in various retail departments. I’ve have had fantastic experience over the years and am very proud to be part of the John Lewis team.
Looking back over your career, what do you believe has drawn you to the design industry?
To be honest, I’ve fallen into the world of design entirely by chance. About 3 years ago, I was asked to look at how we work with Interior Designers. We were keen to review how we could grow into and improve this area. I have to confess I was somewhat intrigued by Interior Designers – mainly from what you see on TV! However, having worked very closely with this industry, what you see on TV might not always reflect reality. However, I have to confess – I love being part of the design sector!
Do you have an design influences in your background that inspire you?
While I don’t really have any specific design influences – I know what I like when I see it – but some key historical designers who stand out for me as having made a true impression over time are Pugin, Voysey, Eames and Gaudi. Thinking about contemporary designers and the invention of modern technology – I believe that it will be interesting to keep an eye on James Dyson and Philippe Starck. It will be fascinating over the coming year, to view who will be taking up the reins of the future.
Can you please explain in more detail the business services that John Lewis are able to offer to Interior Designers? This appears to be a well-kept secret which we are keen to blow the lid off!
John Lewis for Business offer Interior Designers products from its vast assortment, which come with attractive discounts on all purchases over £1000. Our reputation is paramount, therefore we are keen to offer a customer service level that is second to none. We can help collate products for you, as well as offer advice from our own designers. Furthermore, we can also monitor progress throughout the order process and deliver the products for you and your clients.
How does it work exactly and what sort have feedback have you had to date?
The John Lewis for Business service works by the designer contacting us with a list of products from the assortment, a design brief or, the need to meet with our customers in one of our stores to actually see, touch and feel the products. Once we have your order, we initially check on the availability and come back to you to confirm stock. We will then issue the designer with a proforma invoice that details all the products and discounts available. Upon receipt of cleared funds, we will deliver the order for you.
I do get enquiries from designers who are working on longer-term projects. The designers tend to be concerned because the delivery is only required a year or so in advance. One benefit of being housed in the John Lewis Head Office – we can check on longevity of products with our buying teams. This ensures that designers are specifying products that will be available in 3, 6, 12 months time.
Can you give us an example of a recent project? Perhaps where you received a brief from a designer, collaborated with them and achieved a successful result?
We are doing a huge amount of work with developers at the moment. We were recently given a very budget orientated design brief . The developer was very much under the impression that John Lewis would be far too expensive and mainstream. We managed to put a scheme together which came in under budget with the inclusion of some great stand pieces, everything from Furniture and Artwork to Smart Home. This has resulted in future show homes over the coming months.
How long as the B2B service been active and why do you think not many Interior Designers know about this B2B service that JL provides?
The B2B service for Interior Designers has been available for about three years now, however we have been a department for 13 years. We do cover this amongst our other services on the John Lewis home page. There is a link at the bottom of the page which takes you through to our own pages. I think that part of the reason that there’s a lack of awareness is that the link is right at the bottom of the page, secondly we are working on our own communications to store partners who can advise of our services as well. We have been in a few designer mags but don’t regularly advertise.
Have you had any “teething issues” and how have you overcome them?
As such, we haven’t had real “Teething” issues but some of the hurdles I regularly face are: Why would a designer specify from John Lewis when the customer can shop themselves? Therefore, most customers don’t really know what they want until someone curates a scheme for them. Secondly, I get told that designers have so many accounts with suppliers, why should they add another one? – John Lewis is a one stop shop! Everything from teaspoons to televisions and all from one supplier, most of my customers see the real value in using our services as opposed to dealing with multiple suppliers.
What are the key benefits for Interior Designers to be working with John Lewis?
The key benefits for Interior Designers are:
- A huge assortment of products
- Trusted Brands
- Business Account Facility
- Customer Service
- Speed of ordering and delivery.
Just for a bit of fun, if you won the lotto – what would be your iconic furniture / artwork that you would snap up?
Well, don’t we all wish for that…… however, if I did happen to win the lottery, then I suppose I would love to get: an Eames Lounge Chair, the Noguchi Coffee Table, a Florence Knoll Sofa and of course Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh.
Last but not least, MJ and Siobhan have organised a day out for Metier Member Interior Designers to visit the John Lewis Heritage Centre.
We are super excited to be invited to explore the history behind the many designers that have contributed over the years.
If you are an Interior Designer and you are keen to take in part of our peer-to-peer networking support sessions, then please get in touch today to find our more about being a Metier Member.
For more industry expert information about Metier Rendezvous sign up to our Monthly newsletter for regular industry insights, interior design business advice and information about our exclusive workshops to help you grow your business.
Thanks so much for reading 🙂 I’m off to Marrakesh tomorrow with some of our lovely Metier Members for a exciting Design Retreat. Can’t wait!