As fashion shops reopen on Monday, John Lewis Leeds brings back fitting rooms and Kurt Geiger opens two new Victoria Quarter stores

Kurt Geiger bucks the trend by opening two new shoe shops in Leeds, while John Lewis Leeds adds Mango to its portfolio of fashion brands stocked at the Victoria Gate store. Stephanie Smith reports.

Elizabeth Hurley has helped promote Kurt Geiger's charitable campaigns during lockdown.

When John Lewis Leeds reopens its doors at the Victoria Gate shopping centre on Monday, it will offer a first chance for shoppers to see up close, feel first-hand and try on the collections it has created for SS21 - the ranges it hopes will provide the UK’s post-lockdown looks of summer.

Clothes shoppers in England will be able to use fitting rooms for the first time in more than a year when non-essential retailers reopen on April 12. After more than three months closed due to the national lockdown, shoppers will be able browse, buy and use some much-needed services - parents will be relieved to know that they will finally be able to have their children’s feet measured for shoes.

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Alongside its own collections including And/Or, Kin and John Lewis & Partners, Mango will be included in the John Lewis Leeds in-store portfolio for the first time.

Mango will be added to the John Lewis Leeds store when it reopens.

Sadly, the John Lewis stores in Sheffield and York will not be reopening, as they are two of the eight shops identified for closure (including four ‘At Home’ shops in Ashford, Basingstoke, Chester and Tunbridge Wells and two more department stores in Aberdeen and Peterborough). John Lewis has said it is entering into consultation with the 1,465 affected partners about these proposals, aiming to make every effort to find alternative roles for as many as possible.

Bucking the trend, Kurt Geiger will open all 131 of its UK stores which includes nine new stores - two in Leeds, both in the Victoria quarter, one a new Kurt Geiger store and one a new Carvela store concept. The brand has so far donated more than £1 million in kind over the last year to key workers and a large portion of its 2020 profits to NHS Charities Together.

Neil Clifford, Kurt Geiger CEO, said: “I am so happy to be opening our stores again and especially pleased to be opening these new stores. At Kurt Geiger, we continue to believe passionately in the high street, and continuing to protect our employees’ jobs as much as possible is a priority for us.”

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Kurt Geiger will open two new stores in Leeds at the Victoria Quarter.

In line with Government guidance, next day Click & Collect services will also resume in John Lewis shops, in addition to pick-up locations in Waitrose, Co-op and Booths - taking the total number of collect locations to more than 900.

Pippa Wicks, partner and executive director at John Lewis, said: “We’re looking forward to reuniting customers with the joy of physical shopping, along with the excitement of our stores whilst also introducing our customers to stylish new products at prices they won’t expect. We’re also excited to be opening up much-needed services and helping customers choose those items that are harder to buy online - from the perfect mattress, to road testing the right pram or finding the right pair of jeans. We want to make sure the shopping experience is as fun and inspiring as it’s ever been, while also ensuring that our customers and partners feel safe.”

John Lewis says there will be safety measures in place in fitting rooms and customer service hosts will welcome customers into the store and answer any questions while managing customer numbers. The contactless payment limit has already been raised from £30 to £45 and it is expected that the limit will be further increased to £100 by the end of the year. There will be protective screens at till points and areas where social distancing cannot be achieved between customers and partners, and a returns process including new drop boxes and quarantining returned stock for 48 hours.

John Lewis says it is reinstating its Beautycycle service, which rewards My John Lewis member customers for bringing back empty hard-to-recycle beauty product packaging. From April 19 until May 2, coinciding with World Earth Day, it will be doubling the amount given for returning empty packaging; meaning that for every five items of packaging returned, customers will be given £10 off their next beauty purchase until the end of April.