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John Lewis takes flexible format to Essex

John Lewis has signed up as an anchor tenant of the Bond Street retail development in Chelmsford.

The department store has agreed a 119,000 sq ft “flexible format”, which will be the third in its strategy, following the opening of Exeter set for next month and York’s opening next year. The Chelmsford development will cost around £15m.

The flexible format is designed to sit between John Lewis’ full size stores and its ‘at home’ branches, applying an omnichannel approach to offer consumers a mix of fashion, home and consumer electronic products.

It will be John Lewis’ first store in Essex, creating around 350 new jobs.

John Lewis’ managing director Andy Street said: “We’re excited to see the roll out of this new format really starting to gather pace as we expand our reach to customers across the UK, providing them with more convenient access to our inspiring products and great service.”

Although planning permission for the site had been granted last year commercial property investor Aquila, which owns the site, had to resubmit proposals to accommodate the flexible format.

The 300,000 sq ft development will include a total of 20 retail units including a mix of shops, restaurants and a cinema, and is expected to open in autumn 2014.

Chairman Tony Chambers said: “This scheme represents a fantastic opportunity for the growth of premium retailing in Chelmsford.

“We are now taking forward discussions with retailers and restaurateurs that have already expressed interest in coming to Bond Street and we and our agents, Douglas Stevens, look forward to hearing from others who are attracted by our scheme”.  

John Lewis was represented by Cushman & Wakefield and Ashworths Chartered Surveyors.

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