Take a look inside Peterborough's new £21 million refurbished John Lewis store
A multi-million pound restyling of Peterborough’s John Lewis has put the store at the forefront of the retailer’s battle to enhance customers’ shopper experience.
The eight-month-long revamp has seen a complete reshaping and refitting of the four storey shop with the introduction of a host of new attractions as bosses look to give added value to shoppers.
It firmly places the 37-year-old Peterborough shop in the Queensgate shopping centre at the front of the retailer’s fight to overcome the threat posed by a combination of a slowdown in consumer spending, a move to online shopping and competition from other stores.
Gary Rowntree, head of the John Lewis branch, said: “This will be the largest spend on a store for John Lewis and Partners nationally this year.
“It is a significant investment.
“It forms part of John Lewis’s strategy to ensure its shops are destinations that offer an outstanding experience for its customers, and a range of products which is increasingly unique to John Lewis.
“What we have done here will be the model for the rest of the company to follow. It does put this store at the forefront of efforts to combat the overall decline we are seeing in retail.
“Our aim is to create destination shopping spaces that inspire our customers.”
Completion of the revamp of the store, which employs about 390 partners, comes just ahead of the Christmas shopping period.
Festive trading is likely to be even more important to John Lewis in a year in which the national retailer announced its first half year loss and detailed plans to axe one in three senior management roles, bringing the John Lewis and Waitrose businesses under one unified management team.
The early indications are that the new look and the new attractions are enticing customers into the store.
Mr Rowntree said: “Sales on the Friday we held the official opening for customers were up 51 per cent compared to the same Friday last year.
“And sales are six per cent up today and footfall is up.”
The refurbishment has seen a complete refitting of flooring, lighting and fixtures and an array of new attractions have been installed.
Among them is the World of Design, which is a creative service-led destination for interiors and a first of its kind for John Lewis.
Using new technology, including Virtual Reality, it allows customers to place furniture, fabrics and decorations in their virtual home to give an idea of the look before buying.
Among the other features is the Sleep Room. Mr Rowntree said: “We found many customers were reluctant to try out the beds before buying. So we’ve put them in one special area where customers can try them out without feeling embarrassed.”
The Style Studio boasts an array of new changing rooms including a luxury suite for groups preparing for a wedding or other special occasions.
There is also an opticians, the Benito Brow Bar, the Orii Cafe, an Experience Desk and the Place to Eat restaurant.
The revamp has already won praise.
Mark Broadhead, centre director at Queensgate, said: “The transformation of John Lewis & Partners here is magnificent, and the floors that have been completed so far make this one of the best department stores in the country.
"The new brands, services and customer experience will undoubtedly bring people from across the region to Peterborough city centre and that will benefit other retailers in the centre and surrounding businesses.”
Cinema work is on schedule:
The completion of the £21 million revamp of John Lewis will pave the way for the construction of a 10 screen cinema inside the Queensgate shopping centre.
The unused storage space that John Lewis has relinquished will provide the room needed for the cinema, which will be part of a £60 million extension of the centre.
The 77,000 sq ft expansion will also include restaurants and stores and should be finished by the autumn of 2021.
It is expected the extension will create 200 job opportunities at Queensgate.
Queensgate owners Invesco Real Estate and its centre managers Lendlease say the new cinema will be operated by Empire, which says it will be fitted out with a choice of luxury seating that includes double sofas, or individual electric recliners.
Mark Broadhead, Centre Director at Queensgate Shopping Centre, said: “John Lewis and Partners is due to complete its final phase in February 2020, which is when the works to the Queensgate extension will start.
“The £60m extension to Queensgate will see a 10-screen Empire cinema open, plus new restaurants and stores and transform the look of the centre from the car parks entrance.”