John Lewis opts for flexible format in Essex

John Lewis has revealed plans to open its third flexible format department store, in the Essex town of Chelmsford, in 2014.

The department store group will invest around £15m in the branch, which follows the opening of the first flexible format department store in Exeter next month and the second in York in 2013.

The Essex store will anchor the second phase of the 300,000 sq ft Bond Street retail development in Chelmsford city centre, which could be open as early as autumn 2014. The project will also include 20 retail units, providing a mix of shops, river fronted restaurants and a cinema.

The flexible format sits between John Lewis’ full-line department stores which have an average selling space of 132,000sq ft and its ‘at home’ shops which average some 40,000sq ft. The concept allows the business to consider opening in locations that had not previously been seen to be suitable for a large traditional John Lewis branch. John Lewis Chelmsford in Essex was originally announced as an ‘at home’ branch.

John Lewis managing director Andy Street said: “John Lewis Chelmsford will be our first shop in Essex. The Bond Street development in the city centre is a great fit for us and we look forward to bringing a flagship shop to Chelmsford.

“John Lewis Chelmsford will be our third flexible department store. We’re excited to see the roll out of this new format really starting to gather pace as we expand our reach to customers across the UK, providing them with more convenient access to our inspiring products and great service.”

John Lewis’s new shop in Exeter will open on Friday October 12. The 65,000 sq ft store will offer customers a full John Lewis assortment including home, fashion, nursery, consumer electronics and beauty.

As well as being the biggest John Lewis shop opening this year, it will be the retailer’s first shop to open in Devon and Cornwall.

John Lewis was a Gold Winner in The Housewares Retail Innovation Awards 2012, organised by and Housewares Magazine.

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