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    UK retailer goes online in Ireland


    IT STARTED last week with a rug and a tablecloth sold to a customer in Dublin, but British department store retailer is hoping its online sales into Ireland will grow into a multimillion-euro business.

    John Lewis began selling online on June 15th to international markets, starting with Ireland and France.

    It currently generates about £600 million a year from online sales in the UK and hopes to breach the £1 billion barrier by 2014 with the help of overseas sales, including faraway markets such as Australia and the United States.

    “We’ve been looking at the Irish market for quite a period of time,” John Lewis’s commercial director Andrea told me this week.

    “We get a lot of Irish visitors to our website and into our store on Oxford Street. In the short term, our focus will be very much to do with online.”

    She said John Lewis had logged a couple of hundred orders in the week or so it has been available to Irish customers.

    Its best sellers so far have been women’s fashion, children’s wear (particularly for girls), shoes and slippers, John Lewis’s own brand of bed linen, and curtains.

    The cost of delivery is £7.50. But the retailer won’t be shipping furniture or electrical items here.

    O’Donnell, who has family in Galway and Dublin, said John Lewis hadn’t given up on the idea of locating a store here one day. In November 2008, it announced plans to open in Joe O’Reilly’s large retail development on O’Connell Street. That project was credit-crunched.

    O’Donnell said the retailer was “still in discussions with developers”, including O’Reilly, and not just about locations in Dublin.

    She signalled that the , another O’Reilly development, would be of interest if phase two of the project ever proceeds. “There’s nothing on the radar in the short term but we’re still very passionate about the Irish market.”

    Source : Irish Times