John Lewis’s diversification strategy smacks of fanciful thinking

When established brands try to move beyond their core competence it rarely works, and John Lewis’s plan to move into residential property seems poorly thought through.

As annoying proverbs go, ‘The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence’ is right up there. First, because it’s a mean-spirited upbraid to those engaging in a little harmless reverie about how life could be better in a different personal situation – a home-truths homily to put a dampener on envy. And second, because it is not particularly subtle sarcasm: ‘The grass is no greener’ is what is really meant. How could it be? Silly you.

In the commercial world, though, things are not so cut and dried. Between one category and another there can be extreme differences in the shade and lushness of the underlying turf: positively verdant over there, scratchy and brown where you happen to be standing and trading.

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