£21m revamp for John Lewis Peterborough will pave way for Queensgate cinema
Work is poised to start on a £21 million transformation of Peterborough’s long-established John Lewis and Partners store.
The eight-month project will involve a complete overhaul of the 37-year-old department store that will see it equipped with state-of-the art displays and fittings.
It will feature a host of attractions designed to enhance the customer experience and will also do its bit for the environment with a dramatic reduction in lorry deliveries to the store.
The ambitious revamp will finally pave the way for the construction of a long-awaited 10 screen multiplex Empire cinema that will be the focus of a £60 million extension of the Queensgate shopping centre.
The cinema, plus a string of restaurants and retail units, will be built in surplus space returned by John Lewis to the centre owners Invesco and managers Lendlease.
Gary Rowntree, head of the John Lewis branch, said: “We will be handing back about 35 per cent of our footprint.
“But much of it is backroom space that we no longer need.
“There will not be a reduction in the area used for retail, and once the work has finished we will be trading across all four floors.
"In fact in our retail area there is already room to put in more features.”
Work outside the store began earlier this week.
Scaffolding was erected at the rear of the store to allow for significant alterations to the behind-the-scenes storage area.
The internal transformation will get under way this week.
Mr Rowntree said: “This will be the largest spend on a store for the John Lewis company nationally this year. It is a significant investment.
“All eyes will be focused on this store.
“It is hugely exciting and is one of the biggest challenges for John Lewis.
“Basically we are fitting a new-look store inside an old store.
“It will be a total refurbishment throughout the store.”
Some customers may fear such large scale alterations could make shopping difficult.
But Mr Rowntree vowed: “There will be no difference to the service experienced by customers.”
John Lewis Peterborough employs 350 members of staff with that number rising at seasonal times.
Many retailers have struggled to overcome the challenges posed by a growing number of shoppers who prefer to buy online rather than in store.
Mr Rowntree added: “The planned work is part of our reinvention strategy to ensure our shops are destinations that offer an outstanding experience for our customers.”
“We want to make the store much more of an experience.
“The store will be service-led, which is want customers want from their shop.
“They want more than just a basic ‘put a product in the basket’ approach.
He said: “Customers will still be getting the very best service from our staff.
“And once work has been completed there will be a lot of new features for customers to enjoy.
The new-look store will feature a Style Studio, an Experience Desk, providing a form of concierge service, a Beauty Studio, two Bureau de Change, two eateries, an opticians, a Dyson Shop and new toilets.
A detailed programme of construction in store gets under way on Monday when sections of various floors will be closed for a time while works are carried out.
The transformation starts on the second floor when work will be carried out to create displays for audio/vision, tech support, nursery advice, haberdashery, childrenswear, nursery, and toys. There will also be a Bureau de Change and customer services point.
It will fully reopen on October 24.On June 25, work will begin to transform the first floor where new attractions will feature home furnishings and fabrics, furniture, beds and mattresses, cushions, lighting, carpets and flooring as well as home decorating.
In addition, there will be a restaurant called The Place to Eat and a bathshop.
The works should be completed by October 17.
Alterations to the upper ground floor start on August 19 when new displays will be fitted for women’s wear - including a number of new brands - lingerie and swimwear.
It will also feature small electrical goods, fashion accessories, beauty, beauty experiences and an opticians.
In an effort to provide new experiences for customers there will be a Style Studio and Style Talk space where customers can seek advice and information about fashion choices.
The floor is due to fully reopen on November 21 in plenty of time for the vital Christmas period.
Also set to receive a makeover is the lower ground floor, where work will begin on October 14.
A new customer collection point will be installed, which will open this year.
Set to open next year will be the new menswear area plus a men’s personal styling area.
In addition, there will be displays of men’s shoes/ accessories, travel goods, gifting, stationery, gift food, fitted kitchens and large electrical. Special attractions will include a Candle Shop and Dyson Shop. This floor should be fully reopened by January 30 next year.
Guy Thomas, head of retail at Lendlease, said: “The refurbishment works are just the initial phase of our plans.
“This is a very exciting time for Queensgate and the investment by retailers, such as John Lewis and Partners alongside new entrants to the scheme, signifies the strength of the regional catchment.
He added: “The £60 million extension, anchored by a 10-screen Empire Cinema, will sit alongside new restaurant brands and bring further opportunities whilst position Queensgate as a significant retail and leisure destination.”
Mr Thomas said: “The transformation is set to be completed by Autumn 2021.“The 77,000 sq ft extension will be anchored by the cinema and will create 200 job opportunities, adding 10 per cent to the total number of people employed by Queensgate.”