John Lewis is piloting a tradespeople service, booking plumbers, gardeners and electricians on its customers’ behalf.

The service, which has already been trialled in Milton Keynes, will now expand across Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Taunton from September 12.

Its Home Solutions service lets customers book various John Lewis-approved tradespeople online.

John Lewis Partnership group development director Tom Athron said: “Our customers often ask us if we can help them with tasks in their homes. We have taken a lot of care to find professionals who will deliver service to the standard that people expect from John Lewis.

“We know how difficult it can be to find the time in our busy lives to source trusted trade professionals, and hope our customers find the service helpful.”

A new era

The move comes as managing director Paula Nickolds gets to grips with a new era for the retailer.

While the business she has inherited from her predecessor Andy Street, now mayor of the West Midlands, leads the mid-level department store market, Nickolds must guide it through myriad challenges including Brexit and changing consumer behaviour that is hitting department stores particularly hard. 

At media briefings earlier this year, Nickolds spoke of giving customers “a little bit of the John Lewis they haven’t even dreamt of yet”.

Since then, John Lewis has revealed that it is sending partners to theatre school and that its new store in Oxford will have an experience manager dedicated to organising in-store events every day of the trading year.

The department store chain is taking care to preserve its reputation as it branches into home services.

It has a six-stage process to recruit reliable contractors including phone and face-to-face interviews and inductions to the Home Solutions service. It is also conducting on-the-spot visits.

Customers can book the tradespeople via its app, website or customer call centre and will be given time slots to choose from. They will then be matched with a tradesperson. John Lewis is giving a one-year guarantee on all work done.

Home Solutions is unlikely to be the last service rolled out during Nickolds’ tenure. The partnership is exploring other service opportunities, particularly in Smart Home and sustainability.

It may soon be joined in the services arena by rival Debenhams. New chief executive Sergio Bucher has already spoken about launching a beauty services booking system.