STAFF at the new John Lewis store in the city could be ‘theatre trained’ to put on a show-stopping performance for customers at the new Westgate Centre.

Some of the 300-odd new recruits at the development’s flagship department store could be trained in stage presence, vocal techniques and confidence to give customers the best possible experience.

The 120,000sqft shop is currently being fitted out and the recruitment drive is in full swing ahead of the opening on October 24.

Customer experience director, Peter Cross, said: “Retail and the role of shops has changed significantly.

“Retailers have talked about the power of ‘retail theatre’ for many years.”

Once they are trained some staff will greet customers on arrival using their newly-acquired skills, while others will act as concierges if customers need direction to certain areas of the shop.

Mr Cross said: “Our new store Oxford will recognise the power of our partners [staff] as the key players on the stage of this new shop, so their training will include not only all the critical product knowledge our customers expect but also the tools and techniques of the theatre to ensure every customer interaction is as magical as possible.”

Secretary of Oxford Theatre Guild, Simon Tavener, said it would be a positive thing for everyone.

He said: “It’s something that’s being tried in a cafe in London, there’s a restaurant in the West End that only employs resting actors and gives them a chance to perform.

“It’s a growing trend in retail and it will be a positive thing and as long as it’s not too American in its style of customer service it should improve everyone’s shopping experience.”

Mr Tavener used to manager the former Disney store in Queen Street and said the same idea was applied there.

He said: “All the language we used was theatrical – the shop floor was a stage and we didn’t have uniforms, we had costumes.

“It worked because you are performing and you are putting on a show for your customers.”

Applications to work at the new store opened last month, with the chain stating it is keen to hire people from Oxford and across the wider county.

Full-time and part-time roles are still available in sales, services, and customer support.

To apply go to