Meet the specialist advisors at John Lewis in Cheltenham

From offering the newest tech and trending home interiors to enhancing the customer experience, John Lewis's Cheltenham department store specialists are resolute experts in their fields. SoGlos sits down with them to hear all about what John Lewis brings to Cheltenham's shopping scene.

By Sarah Kent  |  Published
SoGlos speaks to four members of the product specialist team across some of the most popular departments at John Lewis in Cheltenham.
In partnership with John Lewis Cheltenham  |
John Lewis Cheltenham

Synonymous with excellent quality, high-end products and an all-round luxury shopping experience, John Lewis & Partners in Cheltenham opened in 2018 and quickly became one of the region's most-visited department stores. With must-have brands, two cafes and one of the best customer service departments in the retail industry, John Lewis Cheltenham continues to provide a top-level experience for shoppers.

Since opening in Cheltenham in 2018, John Lewis has been a staple in the town's shopping scene, known for its high-end brands, extensive range of products and exemplary customer service.

Talking trending products, best-selling brands and what John Lewis brings to Gloucestershire shoppers, SoGlos meets four of its leading in-store department specialists — window decor specialist Claire Bromfield, who has worked in the Cheltenham store since it first opened; tech specialist Astrid Hemmings, who joined the team in 2018; large electrical and cookshop specialist Kevin Jones; and Andy Lassman, a furniture specialist who has worked at John Lewis for 42 years.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Claire: I love gaining new knowledge and then being able to share this information with others. I really enjoy watching my colleagues demonstrate new learning to customers and it's rewarding to watch new partners increase in confidence and skills as I work alongside them.

Astrid: Getting to learn about new products and sharing this knowledge with my team. I also enjoy working with the brand reps and organising for them to come into store for training.

Kevin: I enjoy acquiring new information and knowledge about the products we offer across the business. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the specialist role is to communicate this information to colleagues to ensure they feel prepared to provide a good quality service to the customer journey.

Andy: Every day is different and I learn something new each day! I love to pass knowledge on to the team to enhance partners' learning.

What brings customers into your departments?

Claire: Customers mainly come in for advice, reassurance or inspiration. Whether it's for a replacement pair of curtains or a whole house refurbishment, we can offer custom-made window dressings or just help the customer order their own ready-made items, confident that they will work and fit!

Astrid: Most customers come to the tech department looking for the best advice and an easy shopping experience where they know they will be able to get the latest tech products with easy delivery and assembly options.

Kevin: Customers come to us as they trust the John Lewis name and the quality of the electrical products we offer. They're looking for advice on the best product to meet their requirements, taking price, looks, functionality and reliability into account.

Andy: In the furniture department, it's the choice we have and the range of fabrics and colours we offer. In the bed department, it's the choice of natural fillings, the variety of mattress types and our trusted brands such as Tempur and Sealy.

What are your best-selling, most popular brands?

Claire: We offer custom made, bespoke curtains and blinds by our own John Lewis-owned makers in Lancashire, Herbert Parkinson. We also have access to thousands of fabrics from many suppliers such as Sanderson, Clarke & Clarke, Designers Guild and the incredibly popular Morris & Co. We also stock blinds from prestigious company, Luxaflex, and offer a bespoke shutter service. 

Astrid: Big brands like Apple, Google, Amazon, Sonos, Samsung, Sony and LG bring customers into the department looking for the latest product. Some of our bestsellers are Apple iPhones, Samsung TVs and Sonos audio products.

Kevin: There is a wide range of brands at all budget levels, from entry level Beko to high-end Fisher & Paykel. Best sellers include Bosch and Samsung for washing machines and tumble dryers; Bosch for dishwashers; and Bosch and Neff for ovens and hobs. 

Andy: Bed brands such as Tempur, Sealy, Emma, Hypnos, Harrison Spinks and our own John Lewis label are the most wanted. Whereas in furniture it's Bisley, Laura Ashley, Ercol, Swift, Tetrad, Parker Knoll and John Lewis.

What services are available in your departments? 

Claire: We offer a full 'Measure Make and Fit' service for curtains, poles and blinds. This involves sending an experienced John Lewis estimator to your house to measure up. We then supply a detailed quotation and return to fit them. All of which comes with the peace of mind that the items will be tailored exactly for your needs.

In branch, we can offer advice on your own measure solutions for items that you are happy to fit yourself. We can also supply fabric only and even have stocks that we can cut for you to take away immediately. Working closely with our talented home design colleagues, we can curate and order the items to make your rooms look the way you dream they can be!

Astrid: We have various services available like click and collect, TV wall-mount assembly and TV set up and demo installation services, as well as soundbar and audio system set ups. We can also set up mobile phones, tablets and do computer data transfers within our tech support area. We also offer a trade-in service for used tech items and have a WEEE recycle drop off point in our tech support area. 

Kevin: We offer installation, disposal and recycling — including advice on the various options available to purchase and protect your item, to ensure the customer leaves reassured that, should anything go wrong with their appliance, it will be repaired or replaced. 

Andy: We have free delivery over £50; an assembly services for sofas and tables; disposal service for mattress and divans; an assembly service for bedstead and divans; and a 60-day trial for John Lewis mattresses. We also have a five-year 'Protect + cover' on mattresses and furniture and interest-free finance options, too. 

What does John Lewis offer that customers may not know about? 

Claire: We can motorise a lot of our window dressings to make life simpler and more fun! We can provide motorised roller blinds, roman blinds and curtain tracks, which can even be controlled by smart apps, allowing you to create moods, enhance security and give you control over your rooms. We also offer flooring solutions via our in-branch company, The Floor Room. Additionally, our fitting services are guaranteed for two years which all helps to give you confidence in our offering. 

Astrid: John Lewis offers a two-year manufacturer's guarantee on all tech products and a five-year manufacturer's guarantee on TVs. We also have lots of products on display for customers to try before they buy. We offer a very knowledgeable tech support aftercare team who will be able to offer advice on faulty products and send them away for repairs, if needed. We also have 'Protect +' which is accidental damage protection on most tech products, which can be purchased as a one-off payment or a monthly payment.  

Kevin: John Lewis's own brand appliances offer a three-year warranty as standard.

Andy: We offer a home design service and also have a designated aftercare team based in Didsbury that has access to repairers and French polishers, and brands will send out assessors for mattresses in case of any uneven wear dips and fall-aways.

What training courses have you recently attended?

Claire: Training is so vital to a product specialist. Recently I travelled up to Lancashire to spend a day at Herbert Parkinson to see how our curtains and blinds are made, and to learn all about new specifications and standards. This month we're holding partner training sessions with Luxaflex, Silent Gliss and Shutterly Fabulous. Training is absolutely the best way to build our knowledge base — and our partners get a great deal from these sessions, too.

Astrid: I have been very lucky to attend training this year with Apple, Amazon, Samsung, LG and Audio training, as well as outdoor living training.

Kevin: So far, I have been to a small and large electrical masterclass; training with Bosch and SMEG; plus, installation services and visits to other stores to forge links and collaborate with other product specialists.

Andy: I have attended several bed courses and visited our bedding supplier in the north of England.

As product specialists, how do you coach and inspire your teams in store? 

Claire: People learn differently, so it's important that we can tailor training and learning opportunities to their individual strengths. Each partner is coached through new learning and will be given as much support as they need until they feel confident to demonstrate them independently. Part of a product specialist's role is to observe and encourage colleagues — and this is one of the best parts of the job.

Kevin: My baseline is to ensure all partners have a sound knowledge of all the products we offer, and this is checked via a training matrix covering all the product areas. Selling strategies, social and communication skills are developed through me observing customer interactions on the shopfloor and providing colleagues with guidance how their approach can be enhanced. We also have a Google Chat group to ensure all partners have access to up-to-date information and material.

Andy: I like to arrange for suppliers to visit the store, to build partners' confidence in the brands.

To sign up for a My John Lewis membership, simply download the My John Lewis app on your phone or visit It's free join and members receive personalised offers, regular rewards to redeem in store or online and exclusive access to events, competitions, new launches and much more. 

To read more about the store, see SoGlos's round up of the best reasons to visit John Lewis in Cheltenham

In partnership with John Lewis Cheltenham  |

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