Aug 18, 2020
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Selfridges, John Lewis go greener, product rental is key

Aug 18, 2020

This week has seen two major UK department store names taking big steps forward in what would once have been seen as ‘alternative’ approaches to retail. Selfridges and John Lewis have both entered product rental while the former has also unveiled an even bigger focus on sustainability.


Selfridges has partnered with Hurr “to help embed circularity in the business with the launch of an exclusive new store-to-consumer rental service”.

It had linked with the peer-to-peer rental platform earlier this year for a fashion rental pop-up and its latest Hurr development is part of its wider Project Earth, a major new sustainability initiative that “builds on the industry-leading steps Selfridges has taken over the last 10 years to place sustainability at the heart of the business”.

Bringing Hurr’s technology and philosophy into the Oxford Street store, Selfridges will “offer its customers the opportunity to rent from a carefully curated collection of contemporary and designer pieces”. 

The Selfridges Rental Collection will offer more than 40 brands, such as Zimmermann, Cecilie Bahnsen and Emilia Wickstead, with over 100 pieces that can be rented in-store and online for anywhere from four to 20 days.

The companies said they’re “working towards a future in which circularity is both a consideration and expectation for the industry and consumers alike”.

Sebastian Manes, Executive Buying and Merchandising Director at Selfridges, said: “Alongside our in-store and online retail offer, this new service opens a new way for our customers to trial luxury fashion, while also encouraging complete flexibility -- maximising opportunity and minimising waste.”  

Meanwhile, John Lewis’s rental offer is based on its furniture department and sees it linking with the world’s largest product rental marketplace Fat Llama. 

Customers will be able to rent John Lewis furniture, including desks, chairs, dining tables and sofas, for three, six or 12 months, and have the option to buy them at any time with payments already made deducted from the purchase price. The longer customers commit to renting, the lower the rental price.  

For instance, a £1,899 sofa will cost £108 a month to rent for six months of £80 for 12 months. 

The initiatives come as stores seek new ways to generate revenue, to connect to consumers (especially in the Millennial demographic) and boost circularity/sustainability.

For Selfridges, as mentioned, it’s part of the new approach dubbed Project Earth. This also includes more secondhand fashion, beauty packaging recycling, a focus on repairing rather than replacing products, and greener back-office functions. It's a five-year sustainability plan designed to reflect new ways of thinking and living. It also involves the company working with the designer labels it stocks to promote the use of recycled and organic materials and its inclusion of resale and vintage will see customers able to sell their accessories for store credit.

The company wants to be seen as a business that consumers can trust to care about them and to do the right thing.

And this isn’t just a knee-jerk reaction to the changed, post-pandemic world. The project had been planned for some time and was due an April launch, but was delayed by the UK's lockdown.

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