Students give John Lewis the hard sell

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Students from The Peter Jones Enterprise Academy at Sheffield City College have been demonstrating their entrepreneurial skills to a panel of judges from top Sheffield store John Lewis.

Four teams from the Academy each chose two products from local businesses to pitch to managers from the store.

Following a 10-minute presentation from the students, the judges decided which of the products they felt would sell in John Lewis, outlined a hypothetical number of units they would order, and gave feedback on the pitches.

John Lewis’s visual merchandise manager Helen Colclough said: “It was great to see the passion the students showed for local designers and product. They handled their pitches with professionalism in a demanding situation.”

Graeme Tidd, from the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, said John Lewis’s participation had been pivotal to the success of the project.

Mr Tidd praised the managers, who “threw themselves into the process, asking a range of questions that tested the students, and even testing the pitched products for themselves.”

The students had enjoyed themselves greatly and developed key presentation and communications skills, he added.

The students are pitching the products to other local retailers.

Once the notional orders they receive are totted up, the team with the highest sales figure will be declared the winners of the challenge.

The event is the first of its kind to be run by the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, launched in 2010 by the Dragons’ Den star.