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John Lewis to expand into the Netherlands

What's Dutch for middle class? The "never knowingly undersold" retailer is to become the "Netherlands knowingly undersold"

John Lewis to expand into the Netherlands
de Bijenkorf, the leading department store in the Netherlands, is to host John Lewis outlets on its premises

Retail partnership John Lewis is to open its first shops in Europe, taking up space in seven branches of Dutch department store de Bijenkorf.

Next spring will see John Lewis open outlets in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Hague, with branches to follow in Eindhoven, Utrecth, Amstelveen and Maastricht the following year.

The John Lewis departments will be sized between 300 square feet and 500 square feet and will stock John Lewis's home and lifestyle products, rather than clothing.

The stores are not the first overseas branches for the Welwyn garden City-headquartered retailer, as it has used the same shop-within-a-shop format in Singapore, the Philippines and South Korea, but the expansion marks the first venture onto the European mainland.

“We’re delighted to be debuting our first European shop-in-shop and De Bijenkorf is the perfect partner to enable us to bring John Lewis to a new customer base and country,” said Andy Street, the managing director of John Lewis.

Street indicated the group would probably sign up more overseas department store partners over the next year.

Investors usually regard British retailers trying their luck in the USA with trepidation, remembering expensive mistakes from the likes of Marks & Spencer and Tesco, but are generally a lot more sanguine about European expansion.

Marks & Spencer (LON:MKS) has branches in more than 20 European countries, and its international outlets (not just the mainland European ones) racked up more than a billion quid in sales last year, generating an underlying operating profit of £92.3mln.

Primark, owned by conglomerate Associated British Foods (LON:ABF) has been expanding its selling space in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, while it also recently reported strong trading in France. Of the 293 Primark stores, 164 are located in the UK with 128 in the rest of Europe; it has just opened one store in Boston in the US.

Debenhams (LON:DEB), meanwhile, has six Magasin du Nord stores in Denmark and 11 Debenhams stores in the Republic of Ireland.

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