IT IS a retail success story that has held a mirror to Middle England and later this week John Lewis will open its first store in North Yorkshire.
There were plenty of last minute tweaks going on yesterday as the Yorkshire Post was given a sneak peek of the new John Lewis store at Monks Cross on the edge of the city. Staff could be seen polishing shelves, testing the lighting systems and re-arranging already neat displays to ensure that when the store opens its doors tomorrow everything is just so.
It will stock a collection of products across fashion, beauty, home and electronics, with items ranging from hand towels to beds and lighting. Its most expensive item on display is a 65 inch top-end TV which retails at £5,499.
The opening has been described as a significant economic opportunity for York and it is only the second store the company has opened in Yorkshire.
Robert Garnish, branch manager said yesterday the company, which previously only had one other store in Sheffield, was interested in growing in the region and was committed to opening a store in Leeds.
“We are absolutely committed to growing our presence in the Yorkshire catchment and I have to say its great for York to be paving the way in that regard.
“This is our first store in North Yorkshire. We have a store in Sheffield but this is the first site which plugs what was a big gap between our stores in Sheffield and Newcastle. We know that people were travelling across the Pennines to the Trafford Centre and its great to be able to bring a physical shop to them,” he added.
Walking around the store it is clear a great deal of thought has been put into how goods are placed to tempt the shoppers’ eye. On one wall, rows of mannequin heads can be seen, but closer inspection reveals they are being used to showcase ladies hats.
While in the haberdashery department mini sewing machines that come in a variety of colours are on display, together with wools, ribbons and other items.
The completion of the 92,000 sq ft department store, a £15m project, will be the retailer’s 41st shop and it says the scheme has created over 300 full and part-time jobs. It is based at the Vangarde Shopping Park, at Monks Cross, which, will also include a Marks & Spencer and Next stores.
Some concerns have been raised that such investment in out-of-town retail parks will hit city centre trade and result in fewer shoppers at the tills but business leaders have hailed John Lewis’s arrival.
Previously, Susie Cawood, head of the York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce has described the opening of John Lewis as a coup.
“I think the fact that a brand such as John Lewis has chosen to invest in York shows every confidence in the York economy.
“We see it in terms of York plc. The city is not going to lose The Shambles or the Minister so it will still be very attractive to people.
“John Lewis will bring in people from a large catchment area to visit York both out of town and city centre,” she added.
Mr Garnish believes the development will work well with the city centre and he believes shoppers will opt to visit both.