Norwich store will be part of John Lewis celebrations

Richard Marks, head of branch Photo: Bill Smith

Richard Marks, head of branch Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

The John Lewis store in Norwich will play a part in national celebrations marking the firm's 150th anniversary.

The focus of commemorations will be at the department store's flagship branch in Oxford Street, London, where an interactive exhibition will give visitors the chance to walk the cobbled streets of the capital in Victorian times leading to the original draper's shop that opened on May 2 1864.

However, Richard Marks, head of branch at the Norwich store in All Saints' Green, said there would also be plenty happening locally when the national celebrations start on Saturday, May 3.

He said: 'We are very excited to be celebrating the 150 years of John Lewis and will be marking it with an extended weekend of activities over May 3, 4 and 5.

'There will be a lot of activities going on around the shop and we will be thanking customers for their custom over 150 years.'

He said there would be a lot of product lines arriving to mark the anniversary, as well as special menus, live music and events for children.

'We might have some partners dressing in Victorian costume for the occasion,' he added.

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The Oxford Street exhibition will feature a replica of the office where John Lewis's son, John Spedan Lewis, implemented his plans to turn the company into a partnership making all its employees co-owners - despite his father's misgivings.

An installation will tell the story of how a Second World War bomb threatened the future of the company while another will explain the 'craft of shopkeeping', an 'obsession' of Mr John Lewis, according to the firm's archivist Judy Faraday.

A number of brands such as Silver Cross, Dualit, Kenwood and Barbour and designers including Orla Kiely, Alice Temperley, Ted Baker and Lucienne Day have produced exclusive products for the event featuring heritage colours and fabrics.

The electricals department has teamed up with the Henry Hoover brand to offer customers the chance to buy a 'John' or a 'Lewis' Hoover, and the retailer's own designers have used heritage prints on a collection of modern pieces of furniture.

The retailer is also working on a 150th anniversary television advert to kick off the celebrations, but the details remain under wraps.

The company, which now has 41 shops across the UK and 91,000 staff who are partners, said it hoped the event would give consumers a better understanding of John Spedan Lewis's idea of 'a better way of doing business'.

John Lewis managing director Andy Street said: 'A lot of people know that our ownership structure is different and that we share our profits in the form of a bonus, but our history and heritage has been a well-kept secret.'

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