If you’ve been into the centre of Oxford over the last year you can’t help but have noticed that the shopping area around the old Westgate Centre is being redeveloped. As part of this project John Lewis is set to open in Oxford on 24th October and I was recently invited to have a look around the store, before the merchandising arrived. This is my husband’s idea of heaven, me going shopping in an empty store! Anyway, I was intrigued as I’ve never been in an empty store before and was looking forward to hearing about the plans for this new addition to the Oxford shopping scene.
John Lewis is set to open in Oxford next month I got to don my hard hat and high-vis jacket to get a first glimpse on the new 120,000 sq ft store days before the 55,000 stock lines were put into place. It was a unique experience and I can’t wait to compare the shell of the building I saw last week, to the vibrant, living store it will become towards the end of October.
Our tour was lead my the Branch Manager, Julie Blake, who comes with a wealth of retail experience within John Lewis and Gavin Smith, Senior Manager for Store Development who’s responsible for handing over the fully stocked store to Julie and her team in a few weeks time.
The new John Lewis Oxford store will house three floors full of products along with three different eateries. There’s a feeling of light throughout the store, with large windows and wider aisles. Something else that’s a little different in this new store, is the ceilings. I’m forever getting lost in large department stores, and I’m sure I’m not alone. When you go into this new store, look up, and you will see a range of different ceiling coverings. In one area it might feel really industrial with exposed ceilings and in other areas you’ll see quirky designs to differentiate one area from another.
Listening to Julie and Gavin and the rest of the John Lewis team, you could really see and hear their enthusiasm for this project and that they are eager to show Oxford what John Lewis has to offer. I certainly can’t wait to have this store closer to home.
As you would expect from John Lewis, the new store will offer a wide range of fashion, giftware, beauty, electrical and technology brands as well as a Kuoni Travel Shop, two Bureau de Change desks and an Opticians. Fashion brands will include Hugo Boss, Diesel, Mulberry as well as the John Lewis own label fashion. The Oxford store will be one of only six in the country to stock Boden, as well as other on-line brands including Hush.
Technology is well covered with the Smart Home Environment, offering full connectivity to appliances, lighting and more direct to your mobile devices. There’s also a Home Design Studio and a Nursery Advice Service in store.
If make up is your thing, then you’ll want to know that Charlotte Tilbury will also be available in store as part of the 4,500 sq ft premium beauty hall. Fresh joins John Lewis for the first time in Oxford too. Within the store you will also find the first express Beauty Nail and Brow Bar. You can book appointments, enjoy some retail therapy and then perhaps enjoy something to eat or drink.
I have to be honest, apart from retail shopping experience that I’m looking forward to when John Lewis opens in Oxford next month, I’m really looking forward to trying their Scandinavian rooftop restaurant. I’m going to enjoy trying out KuPP and their sharing smorgasbord whilst looking over Oxford in autumnal tones.
As well as being able to reach the KuPP restaurant through the store, there will also be independent access outside of store opening times. I can see this becoming a firm favourite for lunch with friends in the months ahead. But if you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, then the ground floor cafe bar Benugo is just for you. Offering a place to chill out with a glass of prosecco or one of their own signature coffees. There will also be an outside seating area where John Lewis opens out on to the concourse with the new Westgate Centre.
The Place to Eat has more of a market stall, relaxed feel to it, and I can see this area being really popular with families.
John Lewis is set to open in Oxford at the start of the half term holiday’s, on my husband’s birthday in fact, along with the main Westgate Centre, right in the heart of the city centre. I’m sure it’s going to be a great success and look forward to visiting again soon.
disclosure: I’ve received no incentive for writing this post