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John Lewis To Open First Flexible Format Department Store With Land Securities

John Lewis has today announced it will open the first of its new flexible format department stores in Exeter city centre. A much bigger shop than the originally planned John Lewis at home, John Lewis Exeter will be located on the Sidwell Street site, owned by Land Securities, and will be open by late 2012.

John Lewis Exeter will offer the full John Lewis assortment, including fashion, beauty, electronics and nursery. The John Lewis shop will boost local employment with the creation of around 300 new jobs, 120 more than originally planned and investment in the city is also set to increase significantly, now standing at almost double the initial estimate.

Speaking about the deal Land Securities' Development Director, Nick Davis, said: "The new John Lewis department store will significantly strengthen the city's retail offer, improve people's shopping experience and add vibrancy to the high street. Our strong partnership with John Lewis and Exeter City Council will benefit residents and visitors to the city and will lead to further inward investment into the city centre."

Tim Harrison, Head of Format Development at John Lewis said, "When our landlord, Land Securities, was recently granted planning permission to release further space at the Sidwell Street site for retail use, the site matched our needs exactly for our new flexible format. We're excited to be opening the first of these bespoke department stores in Exeter and providing shoppers in Devon and the South West with access to the full John Lewis assortment including fashion, beauty and nursery."

The new plans will further regenerate Exeter's city centre with John Lewis now occupying all eleven floors of the Sidwell Street site. The selling space will total 65,000 sq ft over five floors and plans include a cafe.

Andy Street, Managing Director, John Lewis said, "There is huge potential, and a clear demand from customers, for John Lewis to expand into more locations across the UK. A flexible approach to the size of the shops we open not only provides us with the opportunity to open a flagship shop in more towns and cities across the UK, but enables us to deliver the very best retail offer to each catchment, providing our customers more convenient access to a broader range of John Lewis products.

The flexible department store format is part of John Lewis's intention to significantly increase brand presence in the UK. On average John Lewis department stores have a selling space of 130,000 sq ft and ‘at home' shops, around 40,000 sq ft. A more efficient shop footprint, the new format will average 65,000 to 100,000 sq ft and will allow the retailer to consider opening in locations that had not been seen to be suitable for a large traditional John Lewis branch. The retailer believes there are approximately ten locations across the UK which would support these bespoke department stores.

Reacting to the news, Exeter City Council Leader Pete Edwards, said: "This is fantastic news and a real endorsement for Exeter as the first city in the country to get John Lewis' flexible department store format. The increased investment and job creation John Lewis will bring to Exeter is tremendous and I'm sure this news will be well received not only throughout the city but across the region, further strengthening Exeter's reputation as a premier regional shopping destination."

Welcoming the news Derek Phillips, Vice President of Exeter Chamber of Commerce, said, "The significant level of job creation for Exeter's economy is outstanding news and a real boost for the city. Land Securities have remained committed to bringing investment and top brand names to Exeter and once complete, John Lewis will act as a massive draw for shoppers from across the South West."

Land Securities has remained committed to investing in Exeter following the successful delivery of the award winning Princesshay Shopping Centre in 2007.

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