Tuesday, 29 September 2009

John Lewis Cardiff open its doors

John Lewis Cardiff has officially opened its doors, with queues of shoppers descending on Wales’ newest, and largest, department store.

After months of anticipation, the shop opened its doors at 09:30am on Thursday 24 September, giving shoppers access to over 350,000 products across four floors and 170,000 sq ft of selling space.

To officially mark the opening, a ribbon was cut by John Lewis Cardiff managing director, Liz Mihell, and pupils from St Mary the Virgin Primary School, who buried a time capsule in the shop in July.

Liz Mihell says: “Our opening is the culmination of a lot of hard work and preparation, so we’re delighted to have reached such a landmark occasion.

“Ever since work began on the shop we have been made to feel extremely welcome by people across Wales. Cardiff is a growing and vibrant city and to be a part of such an exciting time in its history feels very special.”

Crowds waiting outside the shop were treated to entertainment from a samba band and jugglers, while John Lewis rickshaws dropped people off at the new shop and models acting as living mannequins in the city centre showcased the new and exclusive fashion brands on offer. Inside the shop, Cardiff Arms Park male voice choir performed to entertain people as they browse.

The 280,000 sq ft shop, which is the principal anchor for the landmark St David’s development, has opened a month ahead of the rest of the centre. It is the second largest in the John Lewis Partnership and the largest branch outside London and will feature fashion, furniture and homeware products.

Over the past few months passers-by have seen the shop take shape from the outside, with the installation of external signs and a large glass prow sitting at the end of the Hayes.

Liz continued: “Having lived in Cardiff for several months, I’ve felt a growing sense of excitement from the people of Wales, so we’re extremely proud to now share with them the John Lewis shopping experience for the first time.

“We were delighted to welcome shoppers at our opening celebrations. There will be much to see and enjoy through the weekend, with entertainment continuing until Saturday.”

Shoppers were among the first to experience John Lewis’ new womenswear concept, with Cardiff the first John Lewis branch to showcase a new look for the fashion department. This includes a designer area, contemporary fixtures for jewellery and accessories, a denim wall and a feature ceiling. The concept has no defined walkways, allowing shoppers a sense of discovery.

Womenswear brands include Stella McCartney Lingerie, a new and exclusive brand for Cardiff, along with Elie Tahari, Mulberry, Tanya Sarne for John Lewis and Les Petites. The store will also houses menswear brands such as Ralph Lauren, Belstaff, John Smedley, Zegna Sport and Hackett.

In a another first for John Lewis, shoppers were able to browse for products on Johnlewis.com from computer access points on the shop floor and while enjoying refreshments in the Espresso Bar. The opening also saw the unveiling of the largest John Lewis Espresso Bar, which features 129 covers, as well as the 293-cover ‘Place to Eat’ restaurant on the third floor.

A 200 metre-long queue formed outside the shop from 7.45am, and the first customer was Chris Scott who was presented with a bunch of flowers before she raced to the Laura Mercier counter for a make-over.

The first purchase of the day was recorded on the LancĂ´me beauty counter within minutes of shop opening, and the tills kept ringing all day, chalking up over 12,000 transactions.

Home electrical items were in demand, with 21 large screen TVs, 10 Sebo vacuum cleaners and one £3000 fridge being sold. Amongst the best selling items were Liz Earle beauty products, Ralph Lauren menswear and bed linen. The John Lewis Value range mug (£1) and pairing knife (£1) completely sold out.

The new concept womenswear floor proved extremely popular with customers, with Phase 8 and Oasis selling well. Lingerie was a big hit and John Lewis lingerie advisers recorded 41 bra fitting appointments.
Cardiff shoppers prepared for the winter months with ladies boots a sales highlight.

The home department traded well with fourteen carpet and floor covering estimate bookings, four fitted kitchen planning appointments and six curtain measuring appointments.

Hungry shoppers took time to relax in the Place to Eat and Espresso bar, eating and drinking their way through nearly 300 scones, 100 welsh cakes and 3000 hot drinks.

John Lewis Cardiff managing director Liz Mihell said: “Opening day was fantastic and it was great to see how excited customers are about our new shop. Sales exceeded our expectations, finishing more than 20 per cent ahead of our target for the day. Many customers told us how delighted they are John Lewis is finally open with one commenting ‘It used to be that you had to have a cathedral to become a city now you have to have a John Lewis!’.”


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