John Lewis reveal plans to open department store instead of home store

A NEW John Lewis store set to be built in Chelmsford will be bigger than first planned and will create an extra 150 jobs, the retail giant has revealed.

If plans are approved, the store proposed as part of a city centre development could be opened as soon as autumn 2014, creating 350 jobs for the area. Initially the proposal had involved a John Lewis at Home store but it has now been confirmed that the unit will be a much bigger “flexible format” department store.

The proposed �15million John Lewis Chelmsford will anchor the second phase of the Bond Street development, owned by Aquila. The scheme will include 20 retail units, providing a vibrant mix of shops, river-fronted restaurants and cinema.

The shop’s selling space, offering fashion, beauty, electronics, home and nursery, will cover 90,000sq ft, split over three floors, and will also include a customer caf�.

Andy Street, managing director, John Lewis, said: “John Lewis Chelmsford will be our first shop in Essex and we’re excited at the prospect of opening our flexible format department store in the city.

“Not only will this new shop allow us to create even more jobs in the local area but will provide our customers with even greater convenience and ease of access to a broader range of John Lewis products. 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 is the third flexible department store to be announced by the retailer, following Exeter and York.

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Leader of Chelmsford City Council, councillor Roy Whitehead said: “The development of a John Lewis store in Chelmsford is a real coup for England’s newest city. It will be their first shop in Essex and supports the council’s ambitious vision for a 21st Century Chelmsford. It forms a major part of wider improvement plans throughout the city centre.”

Tony Chambers, Aquila’s chairman, added: “Planning consent was granted for a John Lewis at home in September last year. We have since been working with the retailer to redesign the scheme in order to accommodate their flexible format department store and have now submitted a revised planning application. We are very excited by this development which is much needed to serve Chelmsford’s affluent and growing catchment.”