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15th February 2012

John Lewis as a benchmark

We’re so happy to see our Organic motif bunny on the front page of the John Lewis Spring Catalogue. Since we have an international audience on this blog I want to explain a little about John Lewis. John Lewis Partnership is a chain of department stores in the UK, but it is more than that. Founded back in 1864 and set up as a partnership where all employees share the profits, it’s one of the earliest examples of a social business.

We grew up with John Lewis. As a child, my mum and I would take the bus from Cotgrave to Nottingham several times a year on a shopping expedition to buy all those things that you could only get in John Lewis. And you could buy everything in John Lewis. If you needed a special gift for someone, or a hat to wear to a wedding, or a piece of crockery to add to a set that you were collecting then John Lewis was the place. Whatever you wanted or needed to buy you would know that you would be able to find it in John Lewis: that there would be a lovely selection and that you would pay a fair price. A shopping trip to our closest John Lewis in Nottingham was always a joy and always a success.

As such, for me, the name has become synonymous with a benchmark in retail.

Twenty years ago when I first started to visit Bangladesh, I would visit the villages and see the handicraft projects that had largely been set up with international donor funding. The products were beautifully made – blankets, quilts, cushion covers – all very representative of Bangladesh and with incredible handiwork. And the women would ask me ‘Do you like our products?’ To which I would always reply ‘It doesn’t matter if I like them or not, what you must ask yourself is – will it sell in John Lewis?’ and then of course, I would have to explain this comment!

When I started Hathay Bunano, I did so with the question ‘will it sell in John Lewis?’ at the forefront of my mind. We’re all delighted to see Pebble products selling in John Lewis Partnership department stores and especially delighted to see our little bunny on the front page of the catalogue.

Thank you.

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