John Lewis has 'no plans' to close the haberdashery department

Haberdashery department in John Lewis Image copyright John Lewis

Rumours that High Street stalwart John Lewis would be ditching its haberdashery department in favour of bikini waxes have prompted an online backlash from customers and crafters. As the department store confirms the beloved buttons will, in fact, be safe, we look at the enduring appeal of the haberdashery.

The rumours of the haberdashery's demise began after it was reported that John Lewis' new managing director, Paula Nickolds, would be cutting back the department.

Ms Nickolds, who takes up her position in January as the store's first female boss, began her career in the store's haberdashery section.

But in an interview with the Sunday Times she reportedly said it would be downgraded as part of a modernisation process to offer new services such as holidays, bikini waxes and prosecco bars.

The internet was quick to react, and fearing their department store was unravelling before their eyes, customers took to social media to lament the loss of sewing supplies.

And an online petition soon surfaced to save the "British institution" of the haberdashery.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Twitter users lamented the rumoured loss of John Lewis' haberdashery department

But in a statement soon after, John Lewis said: "Further to recent speculation, we would like to confirm that we have no plans to close or downgrade our haberdashery departments. Haberdashery is woven into the fabric of our business and there are no plans to unstitch it."


So it seems the British public aren't shunning ribbons for wax strips after all.

In fact the UK's craft market is booming. We've become a nation of crafters, where stitching vloggers attract millions of YouTube views and amateur sewers can be prime time television on the BBC.

Industry magazine Craft Business reported there to be more than 18 million women in the UK doing some kind of craft.

In 2014, the Craft Council estimated the value of craft skills to the British economy at £3.4bn each year.

Hobbycraft - the UK's only multiple arts and crafts retailer - reported a boost in sales and profits in 2015, including an 11% rise in the sales of sewing machines.

Online retailer sell 63,000 different products, including a huge range of haberdashery accessories from bobbins to bra straps. They say there has been a "revival" in the market, with 20% of all their sales coming from haberdashery.

Next big thing

James Woollam, managing director, said: "Craft has been having a long term revival for a good few years now. As a business, we've enjoyed a period of sustained growth.

"More people are doing crafts, it's part of the fabric of our communities."

The site's content director, Ame Burso, says part of this rise is down to social media channels.

She said: "Craft is so much more mainstream now. Things like Pinterest and Youtube have helped that."

Ame added that while 2015 was the year for crochet, next year will be all about Macramé.

Hint - you may get yourself tied up in knots.

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