Ipswich: John Lewis hoping good times will be in store for town

A RETAILER says it is hoping to benefit the whole Ipswich area when its multi-million pound store is launched on November 8.

It is the first time that the John Lewis Partnership has brought together its two retail operations – Waitrose and John Lewis at home – in such a way.

The retailer has high hopes the complex, now nearing completion at the old Cranes industrial site on Nacton Road, will be a big draw for shoppers and generate benefits for the town.

“One of the things to bear in mind is what the presence of a John Lewis or a Waitrose does across footfall and expenditure, so obviously we hope to benefit the whole Ipswich area,” said Anna Moir, branch manager of the new John Lewis store.

More than 1,000 tradesmen have been working on the project, with about 170 on site at any time, as contractor Bowmer & Kirkland battles against tight deadlines to deliver the �10million build and fit-out project within 24 weeks.

Flooding in the early stages of the project meant workers having to make up time over weekends.

“I think the only difficulty here is the speed. Twenty-four weeks from start to finish is quite an ambitious target,” said Bowmer & Kirkland director Darren Eaton.

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It is a major investment for the retailer, which is leasing the site from landowners Aquigen.

The sales space of the two stores combined is 71,000sq ft, and they will employ a total of 375 staff.

John Lewis Partnership is investing �5m in the Waitrose store and a further �7m in the John Lewis store.

Waitrose development programme manager Simon Clapham said they expected the cafe, shared across the two stores, would be “very, very busy”.

Over eight days, the John Lewis team will bring in �2.8m worth of stock to the store, which will hold 17,000 lines.