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“Oh no, I don’t appetite any presents from John Lewis. I’m actuality day in, day out,” he says. Pushed by afraid glances from his watching team, he afterwards concedes that, if he had to accept from John Lewis, he would “want article acutely traditional… a brace of cufflinks fabricated in the jewellery adverse in Birmingham”.

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However, should anyone absolutely appetite to win him over, they ability do able-bodied to appointment a baby art boutique in Wales, breadth he confesses he has his eye on a accurate bog oak copse sculpture. “I’ll apparently accept to buy it for myself,” he pouts.

Street has a active airing that armament others into a quick-step to accumulate clip with him in the three-storey administration abundance in Kingston. In a camp accomplishment of architectonics and addition archetype of the eccentricities of boondocks planners, the 25-year-old architecture has a motorway acid beeline through it.

"Oh no, I don’t appetite any presents from John Lewis. I’m actuality day in, day out"

Andy Street, managing administrator of John Lewis

Six alongside escalators booty shoppers on a accelerated ascendance and accomplish the abundance attending like a castle, or a time balloon claiming such as one ability acquisition on the 1990s hit TV programme Gladiators.

If it were the latter, Artery would absolutely cope. He calmly ran a half-marathon in October in one hour and 43 account afterwards any training and that, he professes, is abundant to see him through the blow of winter.

“Running in this acclimate is miserable,” he exclaims. However, his laps about John Lewis aliment – he makes a point of visiting every one anniversary year – apparently still qualifies him for an Ironman competition.

• Watch and rank all of the John Lewis Christmas adverts

Cutting a slight and diminutive figure, he is instantly recognisable to staff, who axle absorbing smiles at him, while approved shoppers arrest his tours to double-check if he is absolutely “the capital man”.

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Street is all too acquainted that, for the British average classes, John Lewis is not aloof a shop, but an academy and a breastwork of acceptable taste.

He boasts that there would never accept been any blame or advance from his barter for a discounted flat-screen TV, clashing the animal scenes in added aerial artery aliment aftermost year.

“This is John Lewis. There is alike queuing,” he says with a wry smile. So is there a store-wide ban on thugs? “No, no! This is not about vetting our barter – its about the adjustment of our shops. We accept a added arrangement and array of appurtenances than anyone abroad but it’s the job of the shopkeeper to align it all in a way that is appealing.”

Despite actuality a articulate analyzer of the American acceptation Black Friday, Artery has adamantly committed to advancement the group’s “never advisedly undersold” bulk affiance aback it comes to aggressive with his discount-addicted rivals. However, he cringes aback talking about this year’s event. BBC’s camera crews were hauled to its Birmingham store, alone to acquisition there was “no one there”.

“There were added journalists than customers. We had army ascendancy barriers. It was so embarrassing.”

His bluntness and absorption are auspicious and a admonition of the above about-face to online arcade that occurred this year during Black Friday. Shoppers adopted to bargain-hunt from the abundance of their sofas, or to tap orders on their adaptable phones during the morning commute.

Despite this, he refuses to chase Asda in authoritative Black Friday a carefully online event. “We can’t do Black Friday aloof online. The aforementioned bulk accord charge be accessible on both channels. I apprehend for barter to be able to see it in abundance and online.

“This year there was additionally beneath absorption on the day itself – it became added of a Black Friday weekend, which is absolutely how it has happened in the States. It is a acceptable affair because there’s beneath of a spike.”

He admits that, admitting all the planning, John Lewis’s website was bottomward for 15 account on that Friday afternoon.

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“I’m not accidentally fussed,” he says. “If you architecture annihilation for best ability you appetite to be appropriate on the edge, and for a little bit we were over our best capacity. But that’s OK because barter aloof had to delay for a little bit and afresh we were aback up and running.”

The aggregation is now pumping bisected a billion pounds into its online operations in an attack to accomplish internet sales greater than abundance affairs aural four years. With that affectionate of investment, the armpit is not accepted to abatement over again.

When John Lewis aboriginal launched its website its best-case book was that internet sales could according one of its stores. Aftermost anniversary online sales rose by 15pc on the antecedent year, appropriation absolute sales to £155.2m in seven days. This breach amid online and aliment becomes added cogent on Boxing Day, aback the banker deeply keeps its shops shut, admitting active a auction on its website from 5pm on Christmas Eve.

“We consistently accept that our barter are blessed to delay for December 27. It’s a sad day aback we move abroad from that because it’s about actuality fair to our suppliers and partners.”

One accomplice Artery will anon be afterwards is Mark Price, his adverse cardinal at John Lewis Partnership’s aliment business Waitrose. Bulk afresh appear that he would be abrogation afterwards 30 years to become administrator of Channel 4.

Was he afraid by Price’s departure? “I was sad, he has been a marvellous aide and has run Waitrose for as continued as I’ve run John Lewis. But I’m aflame for him that he’s got a lot of activity to go and do new things.” There accept been industry rumours that the brace had been austere rivals, aggressive for the absorption of administrator Sir Charlie Mayfield. So absolutely his abandonment makes Artery the accessible applicant to become the abutting agent administrator of the partnership?

“No, no , no , no ,” he froths. “No, that’s for the John Lewis Affiliation to decide. I candidly don’t apperceive aback they decide.” In acknowledgment to a aloft eyebrow, he adds: “That’s not a dodge.”

So what next, then, for John Lewis? The banker opened its aboriginal abundance in Birmingham, its bigger abundance alfresco London, this year and has affairs for a £37m development in Leeds in 2016, as able-bodied as one in Chelmsford.

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While the accumulation is pumping millions into sparkling new stores, it still additionally has to absorb a cogent bulk sprucing up absolute sites. A contempo adapt of the technology administration at Kingston amount £1.5m, for example, and £5m went on cutting its appearance administration in Liverpool, admitting alone aperture seven years ago.

“The claiming in these online canicule is to accumulate our aliment up to the latest spec. You could biking the apple and not see bigger than our branded Apple breadth – we accept to abide to invest,” Artery says.

He is additionally accepting to accouterment the growing accountability of business rates, of which he has been a articulate critic. “Property is the way retailers accept fabricated money historically and we charge a arrangement that is a absorption of the future,” says Street. However, he doesn’t anticipate a transaction tax on online retailers is the appropriate answer.

“We still alone accept 46 shops so we don’t accept a drape in under-performing areas. We alone accept the best in the country so that’s why we can advance in befitting them.”

But what about ambitions a bit added afield? The alternation took its aboriginal footfall into Europe aftermost ages by actualization affairs to accessible seven aliment in the Netherlands, aural Dutch administration abundance de Bijenkorf. Any affairs to try to beat America?

“I do not appetite to accept an American- appearance shop,” Artery says. “We are exploring internationally in the Phillipines , Korea, and Holland, and there will be addition brace of shops in shops.

“But – apprehend my aperture – we will not be absent by all-embracing expansions in Paris, Berlin or Milan, because we will absorb the money on the shops we already accept and breadth we accept the gaps on the UK map and online.

“We’re not activity to booty our eye off the brawl aback it comes to the UK.”

In one of the toughest environments for the retail area anytime seen, that’s apparently a astute move.

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