BBC2 will look at John Lewis’s 150-year history and how the department store business is weathering the current  recession in a documentary series.

The untitled 3 x 60-minute series is being made by BBC Bristol and will examine how one of the country’s most popular retailers has remained successful for so long.

The series will reveal the rags-to-riches story of how a young Victorian orphan-turned-entrepreneur, John Lewis, entered the retail business in 1864 when he set up a modest draper’s shop on London’s Oxford Street.

Some 65 years on, his son, John Spedan Lewis, inherited the business and turned it into one of the world’s biggest co-operatives – the John Lewis Partnership.

Other features in the series, include the staff bonus announcement in March, the fitting-out and recruitment for a new Cardiff store this autumn and the fast turn-around of the first of John Lewis’ new Home stores.

“It’s fascinating to follow a major retail player as it deals with the worst economic downturn for 80 years, especially a company that is answerable to its staff, rather than the City,” said executive producer Julian Mercer.

The documentary series was ordered by head of in-house knowledge commissioning Emma Swain and the series producer is Kimberley Littlemore. It is scheduled to air later this year.