LIZ COGGINS GETS A SNEAK PREVIEW OF THE JOHN LEWIS STORE
The excitement mounts as Leeds is on the brink of the opening its first new department store for over a decade.
The John Lewis store has been on the skyline and a source of both excitement and annoyance for the last 12 months. It’s brought eager anticipation whilst on the other side of the coin traffic chaos, lack of parking due to hundreds of contractors, hazards and many a trip to pedestrians and shoppers forced to walk miles out of their way on sometimes dangerous pavements.
But has it been worth it well we will see very shortly. Certainly it is no Schofields, Marshall and Snelgrove or Lewis’s of days gone by, but its bound to add a copper or two to the city’s coffers and bring a lot of pleasure to an army of shopperholics and ladies who lunch!
The £14 million store has got everything you would expect from a department store of its ilk! But John Lewis is primarily for those who love their homes and are looking for the crème de la crème of household accessories.
Although there’s fashion, beauty and accessories it’s the home wares that dominate this store – so its not the place for gorgeous girlie shopping trips – although the beauty hall is certainly a must to visit with some large, fantastic areas the like of which the city hasn’t seen before.
Its taken 21 days to fit up the store which holds £14 million of stock. One hundred and eighty John Lewis colleagues from all corners of the UK have been busy getting everything ship shape including folding to perfection over four and a half thousand pieces of linen and towels.
The top floor features everything for the nursery, well laid out with everything from buggies to organic buds – there’s even the famous Silver Cross prams and a great section with nursery travel items. But the big plus are advisors who can help plan your nursery needs – great for first time mums.
Leeds has been void of haberdashery departments since the dear lamented Schofields closed. So a big thank you to John Lewis for saving avid knitters, home dress makers, embroiderers and those who want to start this highly fashionable hobby from having to go into the suburbs or trawl the back streets. For this is a great space with everything for the crafter from fashion fabrics, wools and embroidery needles to sewing machines.
Kuoni score well here with their in house travel bureau which is a lovely oasis of calm with a small section beside it for luggage. This is the place to plan that cruise or winter sun bu surprisingly enough there’s not a piece of swimwear, bikini or sarong in the whole store! Missing out there JL! The old department stores always had a permanent cruise and swimwear section adjacent to their luggage.
John Lewis is the pinnacle for supplying anything for the home and this store doesn’t disappoint with the latest in high tech – cameras for fridges so you can look into the space when you are in the shop and see what you need, in fact their ‘smart home’, the only one in a John Lewis store outside Oxford Street, lets you control your home from your phone – who could ask for more.
The store is all about being creative you can even create your own rug from nearly 140 different colours and various textures and have it made up and delivered in around five weeks.
And if you are thinking of buying a bed and want to test it there’s a special sleep zone away from public gaze where you can sample and make your choice.
There’s several eateries including Benuyo with Prosecco on tap and Coffee Experience, where seasoned coffee lovers can create their own blend and buy the correct tools for creating it in the most spectacular way.
Jumping on the band wagon of opening a store in Yorkshire wisely John Lewis have a section ‘Made in Yorkshire’ with cards, plaques, bags, edible goodies and so on – which I fear will probably only appeal to the tourist from ‘down south’ or in my case my colleagues and friends from Australia!
The store is impressive, airy and modern and I love the incidental art work at every turn but sadly it will never be a Schofields, which was three times its size or a Marshall and Snelgrove, where chauffeur driven Rolls and Bentley’s dropped off customers for their shopping.
But whatever your budget, taste or requirement John Lewis I am sure will prove a great attraction to the city and one that provides a shopping experience to savour.
John Lewis opens to the public on Thursday at 10.00am and is open every day from 9.00am to 8.00pm. Check with the store for Sunday opening times.