John Lewis today opened the first of its new full line flexible format department stores in Exeter city centre, marking the start of an exciting new phase in the retailer's accelerated growth strategy.
Leveraging the business' strength as an omni channel retailer, the new shop offers a full John Lewis assortment, complemented by a comprehensive on-line operation.
The flexible format sits between a John Lewis 'at home' and a traditional John Lewis department store in terms of size and offers the full John Lewis assortment within a smaller footprint by maximising the opportunity for omni channel shopping.
From 8am, over 150 customers queued outside the shop in Exeter city centre eagerly awaiting the chance to explore the extensive product lines across fashion, beauty, consumer electronics, home and nursery.
The branch will boost local employment with the creation of around 300 new jobs.
John Lewis has identified at least ten locations across the UK which could support these bespoke department stores and has already announced the opening of shops in York, planned for a 2013 opening and Chelmsford, due to open in 2014.
Andy Street, managing director, John Lewis commented: 'Today marks an important milestone in our growth strategy and we are thrilled to be expanding our offer to customers in the South West. This is the first of our full line flexible format department stores, a concept which means we can now consider opening shops in areas that were not always thought feasible for a traditional John Lewis department store building. We hope customers will be as delighted with the shopping experience that this new shop offers as we are.'
Tim Harrison, head of format development, John Lewis added: 'We understand that customers now shop in many different ways. We have chosen our Exeter shop to test a range of new concepts and trial a selection of interactive technologies for the very first time. Over the coming months we will be looking at customer feedback and exploring how these initiatives can be enhanced and added to, not only for our shoppers in Exeter, but across the country in other John Lewis shops.'
Specially designed interactive information screens will take customers through a number of questions to help find the best product to match their needs. Digital store guides have been introduced to ensure customers can navigate the shop easily and larger screens fitted on walls throughout the shop will provide information on products available not only in the shop but from the entire John Lewis assortment.