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John Lewis set to shift content production duties to in-house unit

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By Sam Bradley, Journalist

February 26, 2024 | 4 min read

The British retailer is moving content production into a new company with 140 staffers in partnership with ITG.

John Lewis

140 John Lewis employees will shift to the new business unit / John Lewis Partnership

The John Lewis Partnership is the latest major brand advertiser to invest in in-housing, with the launch of a dedicated content agency under the retail brand’s umbrella.

The company has said it will create a content production house, as yet unnamed, with the assistance of Inspired Thinking Group (ITG).

Charlotte Lock, customer director for John Lewis Partnership, says: “This partnership will radically transform what we do, using market-leading technology to produce fantastic quality content at speed and scale. Ultimately, it’s about creating even closer relationships with our customers through more relevant, engaging, high-quality content.”

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Over 140 John Lewis employees will transfer to the new company as part of the investment, though they’ll still work from the retailer’s premises. The company plans to keep its brand marketing team within John Lewis itself. The move will “give them the opportunity to grow their career within a global agency, but will work from JLP’s existing locations,” says Lock.

John Lewis is seen as one of the most prestigious clients in the UK advertising industry for its years of high-profile Christmas campaigns. It appointed Saatchi & Saatchi to lead its creative efforts last year, following an expensive and lengthy search for a new agency after previous incumbent Adam&EveDDB declined to pitch.

According to Lock, that relationship won’t be impinged upon by John Lewis’s move to bring production in-house.

“There is no impact on Saatchi & Saatchi – this new relationship is about content,” she says.

Most British retailers experienced a “subdued” Christmas trading period, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), and the John Lewis Partnership, which also includes premium supermarket Waitrose, has found trading difficult in recent years.

John Lewis made only its second-ever loss in 2022 and made a pre-tax loss of £59m in the first half of 2023.

As part of a wider turnaround plan, the firm has quietly reset its approach to marketing in the last year, establishing strategic partnerships with Google, Salesforce and Dunnhumby in order to update the way it does business.

Lock, however, says the initiative is not just about cutting the amount of cash it spends on advertising.

“This is about so much more than reducing cost. The primary aim of this new hybrid in-house creative production partnership is to deliver flexible and more efficient content production at a pace and at the scale needed to build stronger connections with customers – through simplified processes and the use of award-winning marketing technology.”

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