Oxford Street competitor absorbed by Partnership

Photo:The John Lewis East House in 1937, decorated for the coronation of King George V

The John Lewis East House in 1937, decorated for the coronation of King George V

By Jonathan Blatchford

John Lewis acquires TJ Harries

The absorption of TJ Harries into the John Lewis Partnership was officially confirmed in the Gazette of Saturday 22nd September 1928. TJ Harries was a business operating on the east side of Holles Street in Oxford Street, not far at all from the John Lewis Shop. It was primarily a dressmakers shop with both an amateur and professional trade.

Moving the Partnership forward

After some stiff competition from rivals, the shop was eventually purchased. This expansion brought the turnover of the Partnership to well over two million pounds a year, and increased the size of the workforce to well over 2000. And upon the takeover of the Partnership, the shop resumed its trading on similar lines. It was hoped however that under the guidance of the Partnership the shop could double its turnover in a matter of years. Rebuilding and improvements were also in the pipeline at this early stage, a move that would physically modify the shop to the specification of the John Lewis Partnership.

Twelve Years the East House

Following the aforementioned rebuilding of this extension, T J Harries became known as the 'East House' of John Lewis, an extension of the original shop. The original shop was then affectionately known as the 'West House'. Both traded in unison there until 1940. The purchase of Harries was therefore instrumental in the expansion of the shop and can be considered as a shrewd move. Immense bad luck was to follow however. On the 18th September 1940, in the height of the Blitz, John Lewis Oxford Street was catastrophically damaged by an enemy bomb. West Street was hit directly by an incendiary oil bomb, and the resulting fires were blown over to the East House, where the entire interior was damaged far beyond repair.

Oxford Street rebuilt after bombing

The shop remained a bomb site until in 1958 the rebuilding of John Lewis Oxford Street began and was subsequently completed two years later. Despite the obvious setback of the bombing, the good sense to purchase T J Harries in 1928, allowed the Partnership preserve and expand its Oxford Street status. The acquisition of the SPS group in 1940 also allowed the Partnership to live on outside of London. It was this combination that allowed the Partnership to come back with a vengeance in Oxford Street in the 1960’s.

This page was added by Jonathan Blatchford on 11/08/2014.