John Lewis set to open at Heathrow Airport

John Lewis is taking to the air. Or rather, to Heathrow's new Terminal 2. Middle England's retailer of choice is planning to open a new shop hub at the airport from next summer, throwing £1m of investment at the venture.

Given that new Terminal 2 will see more than 50,000 passengers pass through daily, sales shouldn't take long to take off. In theory.

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Quoted in the Guardian, Andy Street, John Lewis's managing director, said the 334-square feet foray will give the retailer "one of the most concentrated, valuable and influential markets in the world". Large John Lewis department stores are closer to 12,200 square metres in size, so this Terminal 2 footprint is very much a scaled down affair.

If successful - the Terminal 2 venture will create around 40 jobs - it's likely John Lewis will likely expand its airport footprint. The retailer will be able to rely on its brand familiarity, as well as being able to draw on a line of new international customers; much of the product offerings though will be John Lewis-branded stock only.

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Sales concern

International John Lewis stores? It looks only a matter of time (though it delivers online to at least 30 countries). The move mirrors a general uplift for the airline industry, buoyed by increased tourism and strong economic growth from developing and emerging economies like China, Russia and South America.

Some diversity looks welcome. John Lewis recently saw weekly sales slump to their lowest level for nearly two years, raising concern that its strong growth record was under pressure: overall weekly sales in the first week up to 8 June slipped 5%. Crucially, sales failed to climb above the critical £60m threshold, the first time since late 2011.

However the retailer was still buoyed by record profits last year, up almost 16% to £409m. Also online sales, which climbed 40% in 2012 with sales hitting £1bn. But these numbers have come at the cost of several hundred managerial redundancies earlier this year.

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