John Lewis’ £15m vote of confidence in York economy

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JOHN LEWIS has delivered a vote of confidence in Yorkshire’s economic prospects with the opening of its new £15m store in York, writes Bernard Ginns.

The employee-owned department store group also started work this week on a new store in Leeds, which is set to open in 2016.

Andy Street, managing director, told The Yorkshire Post: “It’s a great story across the Yorkshire region.

“We wouldn’t be doing this if we were not really confident in the prospects for the local economy.”

He said the group’s economic projections for Leeds and York are “very optimistic”.

Mr Street added: “We are absolutely confident that there is a pool of customers both now and in the future in these two locations that will enable us to trade very well.”

The partnership’s new store at Vangarde Shopping Park in York has created 300 new jobs. It is the first new John Lewis store to open this year.

Prior to the opening, Maggie Porteous, director of selling, gave a speech to staff about the retailer’s commitment to Yorkshire.

Mr Street, who attended the opening, said: “The sun is shining in York this morning and it’s making the shop look really radiant.

“I’m sure that when customers come they will be suitably impressed.”

The store sells fashion, beauty, consumer electronics, home and nursery products.

Mr Street said: “This is our 41st shop and the reason we wanted to come to York was that there was a big gap in the map of this whole catchment of east and north Yorkshire.

“The reason we needed to fill the gap in the map is if you are going to be the leading ominichannel or indeed online retailer in the UK, every catchment needs a physical shop so that customers can come, be inspired and talk to our partners and then of course make many of their purchases online.

“They can then come back to the shop to pick up the product through our click and collect facility, which is becoming very popular.”

The John Lewis Partnership, which includes supermarket Waitrose, has sales of £9.5bn.