John Lewis champions local business in new campaign

Growth and strategy

25 August 2016

John Lewis is preparing to support artisan SMEs through its new ‘Made Locally' campaign, another example of the rise of the so-called ‘artisan SME’.

Under the initiative, the retail giant will stock products created by local suppliers, giving a boost to independent British businesses.

Launching in Leeds

The Made Locally campaign will start in the new Leeds store, which opens on 20 October 2016. Over the coming months, the project will also be rolled out in the Edinburgh, Glasgow and Cardiff outlets.

The Leeds-based shop will stock over 120 products from 11 regional suppliers, all based within 30 miles of the Yorkshire city. The items, which will also be available to buy on the John Lewis website, will include Masons Yorkshire Gin and scented candles from the Harrogate Candle Company. Also, local designers D'Albert and Cabba will have their clothes on display in the 'Loved&Found' section of the store.

The Great British Exchange

The project is a partnership with The Great British Exchange (GBE), a B2B organisation based in Harrogate, which helps small British producers sell their products to large retailers. Members of the GBE include SMEs from across the UK such as up-and-coming designers, established suppliers and small factories. They pay a £20.83 monthly membership fee along with 15% commission and in return benefit from cheaper access to trade shows and targeted marketing services.

British provenance

John Lewis' support for UK independent suppliers is consistent with the company's British roots and reputation for high quality. Head of Buying for Home Accessories and Gifts, Anna Rigby, said: “We know that our customers are interested in the provenance of products and as a British retailer, we’re proud to support British design and quality by sourcing locally.”

A good track record

The retail giant is no stranger to working with small independent manufacturers. Its Cardiff store currently stocks 80 product lines from Wales, while the Birmingham outlet has numerous items in the 'Made in the Midlands' range. The Made Locally campaign will draw on that experience and build upon it over the coming months, starting with the brand's new Yorkshire branch.

For top tips on how your business can promote itself and start up in the right way, take a look at our Five mistakes new businesses make article.