One of the most eagerly awaited shop openings in York’s recent history moved a step closer today as John Lewis allowed a first look inside the new store.
The store, due to open on April 10, is being prepared for its first customers by branch manager Robert Garnish and occupations manager Gavin Smith.
Today (Tuesday, March 4) they took groups of journalists and city leaders on tours around the £15 million store, the retailer’s first opening in its 150th anniversary year.
Robert, who is from County Durham and whose parents live just north of York, previously ran a store in Poole, Dorset.
“When we announced that we were opening in York, I think I might have been the first on the phone – ‘I’d like to run that shop please!’,” he said.
“This will be the most up-to-date store we have ever done. It’s exciting for me and my team, and the city as well.”
John Lewis York, on the new Vangarde Shopping Park at Monks Cross, covers 92,000 sq ft across two floors.
Customers will enter into the beauty department, which will stock products by Lancôme, Dior and Bobbie Brown as well as three brands which are not sold anywhere else in York – Liz Earle, Japonesque and Lipstick Queen.
There is a dedicated handbags section, styled differently with a finned ceiling.
The women’s fashion department will include a lingerie and swimwear section, and has 17 fitting rooms.
There is also a personal styling room where advice can be given on a special outfit for the races, a wedding or other important event.
A popular part of the store will be that dedicated to women’s shoes, said Robert. “We’re expecting this to be particularly busy. It’s a really exciting department in many of our shops.”
Further back is the children’s wear department. Blue paper planes hung from the ceiling will guide parents to the boys’ section, with pink butterflies for the girls and storks for babies and infants.
There is also a nursery advice area offering guidance to panicking parents-to-be.
Menswear will take up one side of the first floor. “We’ll be releasing our list of brand names next couple of weeks,” Robert said.
The furnishings department will include fitted kitchens, fitted bathrooms – a first for a new John Lewis store – and sofas.
A home design service will offer guidance on dressing anything from a bay window to a living room.
More than 100 TVs will be on display in electricals, the biggest with a 65 inch screen.
A technical support area will deal with customer queries about electrical products or who need data recovery from laptops.
In linens you can pick up two pillows for £10 – or a single luxurious one for £135. The duvets and pillows are made in a John Lewis-owned factory, Herbert Parkinson in Lancashire.
Close to the central atrium will be the tabletop items – glass and chinaware – and behind it the seasonal area where you’ll find the Christmas shop next winter.
Food and drink
On the ground floor is the Hotel Chocolat Cocoa Bean Café. This caters for 40 covers inside and another 30-40 in an outside seating area.
“It’s something a little bit different, particularly in a city like York with its strong heritage of chocolate manufacturing,” said John Lewis York branch manager Robert Garnish.
On the first floor, next to the large windows, is the Place To Eat café, with 120 covers. It is here that anyone who is in the My John Lewis membership scheme will be able to claim their free drink and cake once a month.
Look out for…
The “slab cutout” – basically a hole in the ground floor ceiling to allow light fittings from the first floor to be suspended from the roof.
The central escalator atrium – with a ground floor to roof skyscraper display and initially featuring a massive 11 square metres (118 square feet) retro graphic to mark the 150 anniversary of the first John Lewis store opening in Oxford Street, London.
A “featured staircase” – unique to the York John Lewis, each step has been cast in polished concrete on site.
Stocking the store
A total of 107 John Lewis staff will travel to York from stores as far apart as Aberdeen, Manchester, Exeter and Southampton later this month.
They will work for 12 days preparing the store to open, filling it with £8 million of stock in six days and using the rest of the time to brand the store and help with staff training.
Gavin Smith has overseen the opening of 15 John Lewis stores. “Twelve days is the quickest we’ll have done it by a considerable margin,” he said.
The extra staff will be staying in the Park Inn Hotel in North Street. “They’re coming to work really hard and get a chance to explore the city as well,” said Gavin.
When you can shop
Store opens 9am on Thursday, April 10, 2014
If you order online before 7pm on Wednesday, April 9 your order should be at the York store by 2pm the next day
Monday to Friday 9am – 8pm
Saturday 9am – 7pm
Sunday 11am – 5pm
John Lewis York in numbers
Size of store 92,000 sq ft
Cost £15 million
John Lewis’s 41st store
Toilets 12 women’s cubicles, 3 men’s cubicles plus urinals
Thirty multi-decker articulated wagons will bring the initial stock to the store
It will arrive in 1,000 metal cages, and 5,000 one metre squared tote bins
After that they expect at least one multi-deck wagon delivery a day – to arrive overnight and be unloaded from 6.45am in the morning.
At peak shopping times this could rise to two or possibly three deliveries