Retail giant John Lewis is aiming to take the hassle out of finding a tradesperson in a bid to fend off competition from the likes of Amazon.
The retailer has launched the Home Solutions service, which has signed up around 150 tradespeople so far, including plumbers, electricians, decorators and gardeners.
The tradespeople have undergone a “rigorous” six-stage recruitment process, including interviews, background checks, reviews of past work and training in customer service. John Lewis said they would remain independent contractors rather than becoming partners.
The retailer also expected the number to increase as the trial expands this year. The initial trial took place in Milton Keynes, and has been rolled out to Bristol, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Taunton from September 12.
Managing director Paula Nickolds said the business needed to bring in more home design, beauty salons, personal styling and other services as shoppers’ behaviour changes “profoundly and fast”.
To use the service, customers simply pick a time slot before being matched with an available tradesperson through the service’s website, app or call centre. The work is then guaranteed for a year.
Tom Athron, group development director at the John Lewis Partnership, said: “As a trusted retailer of home products our customers often ask us if we can help them with tasks in their homes. We are delighted to be expanding our trial and have taken a lot of care to find professionals who will deliver service to the standard that people expect from John Lewis.”
This follows the announcement earlier this year that further redundancies would be made on top of the 400 already confirmed. The Guardian newspaper suggested that the number could reach around 800 in total.
Nickolds confirmed the news, saying that it was part of the retailer’s plan to reinvent itself and become “more digital” in order to “connect with people”.
She confirmed that a number of administration jobs would be axed as back-end functions are becoming increasingly automated.