A NEW John Lewis at Home store was due to open its doors to customers in Chichester today, bringing a boost to the local economy.
It is the 36th John Lewis shop in the UK, and in the immaculately laid-out two-storey shop customers will find homeware and electrical goods, rather than clothing and fashion accessories.
It also has the first London 2012 Olympics shop outside the capital, which sells memorabilia.
The dedicated homeware shops were introduced by John Lewis in 2009, as a way of trying to beat the credit crunch and subsequent recession by diversifying.
They’ve proved popular with customers, not least because shoppers can use Click and Collect to order any John Lewis product online and pick it up from the shop the next day.
Claire Dunkason, who is originally from Lee-on-the-Solent, and is the manager of the Chichester branch, said it was listening to customers that has made John Lewis buck the recession and grow.
She added that customers wanted the chain’s stores to be more accessible, and that has led it to open the Chichester branch on the Portfield Retail Park, just off the A27.
She added: ‘Being in Chichester, it’s an area we’ve wanted to be in for a long time.
‘What this new format has allowed us to do is to be in more accessible places for our customers.’
The ribbon was due to be cut at 9am this morning by representatives of the first three charities the store will be supporting.
The new store has provided 140 people with jobs, many of whom had been unemployed.
One of those, Simon Ryves-Webb, of Midhurst, had been out of work for 11 months before he was given a job as a partner – what John Lewis calls its staff members – in the furniture department.
Before the opening, he said: ‘I was very pleased to get the job because there were around 1,300 applicants for 140 places.
‘I can’t wait for the opening, though I’m a bit nervous, but we’re all really excited.
‘The new shop is wonderful, it’s lovely.’
The launch was also to be celebrated by brother and sister Leo and Polly Tregear, who beat hundreds of children in Chichester with their winning designs for the perfect Easter egg.
Their picture will be displayed in frames on the shop floor during opening week.