John Lewis has unveiled its £23m store in Cheltenham.

The retail group opened its doors to the public at 7:30am on Thursday, with the department store expected to channel business back into the town centre.

Kevan Blackadder, head of Cheltenham’s Business Improvement District, said the opening was good news for all businesses.

He said: “I think the independent shops have got a lot to benefit from [John Lewis]. Some businesses you’ll notice have started opening in Cambray place, they’re independents and they can see they will benefit from having John Lewis customers right on their doorstep.”

john lewis interior

Park Post spoke to Reg, who was at the front of the queue and the first person in the store. He said: “I am here because I’ve never been to a store opening before I am very nosey!”. Another shopper in the queue said: “I’ve seen the ones in Oxford and London and it’s so exciting to have one here.”

The store is full to the brim with clothes, beauty products, tech and of course Christmas decorations. Martin Bundy is the Store Manager and said that “we delivered six and a half million pounds worth of stock, which was placed into the store by 120 people in 11 days. That’s enough stock to fill 40 lorries.”

There has been a lot of hype and excitement but our Park Post reporters have yet to see any shoppers with bags.

The opening of John Lewis was boycotted by some anti-Brexit campaigners protesting. They were there to promote their pro-EU message. The group Cheltenham for Europe are approaching the captive John Lewis audience looking for support in getting another referendum.

Brexit protesters

It’s not just shoppers who are excited, neighbouring stores are offering punters discounts for the opening day only. Joules is offering 20% everything. The Wild Beer at Jessop House are offering anyone with a John Lewis receipt 10% off their food bill.

The new John Lewis store was formerly the Beechwood arcade and Debenhams. The Beechwood shopping centre closed in February after 25 years of operation, when the final tenant – Debenhams, left. The new store is creating up to 250 jobs.

The department was due to open earlier this year, but was delayed by six month following a hold up that local MP Alex Chalk described as a “slight contractual wrangle”.

 

 

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