As John Lewis prepares to open its 50th store in Westfield White City next week, general manager Ruth Scharvona can hardly wait to welcome west London shoppers to the newest branch of one of the UK’s favourite department stores.
The new £33m White City store will open its doors to the public next Tuesday (March 20) as it spearheads Westfield’s £600m expansion to celebrate the 10-year anniversary.
And with over 20 bespoke services for customers across four trading floors covering 230,000 sq ft, Londoner Ruth has every reason to be excited ahead of the official opening.
“It’s absolutely mad,” Ruth said. “There’s so much to do but it’s so exciting. We can’t wait to open and be part of the community.
“Everyone is focused on making the shop as successful as it can be. I can’t pretend I’m not slightly apprehensive but it’s a very excited apprehension.
“My birthday is just a couple of days before the shop opens so it’s the best birthday present I could ask for!”
Ruth discovered she had landed the job in May 2017 and would be ending her six-year stay at John Lewis Stratford City to take the reins at White City, which will be staffed by 500 partners, the majority new to the business.
Westfield’s expansion opens at 9:30am before John Lewis welcomes shoppers in at 10:00am.
Ruth, born in north London and currently living in Brentwood, Essex, will celebrate 30 years at the business this August, having joined straight from school aged 18, starting at Peter Jones and spending time at Sloane Square, Oxford Street and Head Office before joining the Stratford store in July 2011.
Having climbed through the ranks from shop floor to senior management, Ruth’s passion for her job is clear. She loves John Lewis and is confident her customers in west London will too.
She said: “I’m a shop girl. I just love retailing, I love the buzz of it, I love people. I’m a big extrovert, I feed off other people and there’s no better environment than in a shop to do that.
“My favourite time is 3:00pm on Saturday, the week before Christmas when all the fabulous work you’ve done all year is coming together and the shop is buzzing.
“I want our shop to be an unrivalled John Lewis experience. I want everyone to feel like they’ve been treated very personally as an individual. That’s really important to me and that’s what success will look like.”
Ruth’s love of retail and understanding of John Lewis as a business stands her in good stead ahead of her new venture.
So how would she describe herself?
“I’m not a rocket scientist. What I am is someone who is able to juggle many things at once and I really enjoy what retailing throws at you. I’m a very hands-on retailer,” she said.
“I would describe myself as a bit of a conductor, making sure all the component parts of the shop are working.”