Customers help John Lewis celebrate its 150th anniversary

John Lewis staff, including John Lewis staff, including "Mr Lewis"(Chris Heaford) dressed in period costume to celebrate the companies 150th anniversary. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Saturday, May 3, 2014
5:24 PM

Hundreds of customers have raised a glass of elderflower punch to toast John Lewis as it celebrates its 150th anniversary.

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John Lewis staff, including "Mr Lewis"(Chris Heaford)  dressed in period costume to celebrate the companies 150th anniversary.
Photo by Simon Finlay.John Lewis staff, including "Mr Lewis"(Chris Heaford) dressed in period costume to celebrate the companies 150th anniversary. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Staff at the Norwich store dressed in vintage clothing, and offered Bank Holiday weekend shoppers cupcakes and drinks, while a samba band serenaded passersby outside and smooth jazz played near the coffee shop.

The city-centre shop started life as Bonds, founded on Ber Street as a small drapers shop in 1879, and was bombed in the Baedeker Raids in 1942.

Bonds was rebuilt in 1951, and was bought by John Lewis in 1982, changing its name in 2001.

This weekend’s events mark the start of a three-month celebration of John Lewis’s national anniversary.

Norwich operations director Jonathan Oakes, who remembers getting his school uniform at Bonds, said: “It’s our birthday weekend and what we wanted to do was celebrate with our customers the fact that it’s our 150th birthday.

“We have brought a bit of history back to the shop, with a modern twist.

“We have had a really positive reaction. I think the costumes in particular are really hitting the mark. Customers are wishing us happy birthday and taking photos.”

Special guests include Spot the Dog, while there is also face painting and someone making period clothing.

The Norwich store has about 550 staff, all of whom have been given a copy of the company’s 150th anniversary book, A Very British Revolution.

What are your memories of Bonds and John Lewis? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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