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John Lewis boss sees York as a "winning city"
THE managing director of national department store chain John Lewis has described York as “the glue that sticks together an affluent catchment area”.
Andy Street was speaking yesterday at the Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce annual lunch, held at the Royal York Hotel.
Describing why John Lewis was investing £15 million in a new 120,000 sq ft store at Monks Cross, during a period of rising online retail trends, Mr Street said York had the potential to be a “winning city”.
He said: “John Lewis is still a scarce thing. We don’t invest in any Tom, Dick and Harry city, in fact there are only 40 shops in the UK.
“We select the cities we are going to open in very carefully, and we picked York for four reasons.
“The first is the robust local economy. Secondly we identified that York has a great catchment area in terms of affluence, and we think York can glue that catchment together.
“We looked at Waitrose stores in the area and they are all trading very well, and finally we wanted to make a bid for Yorkshire as a whole, and see York very much as complementing our flagship Yorkshire store in Leeds.”
Mr Street said the Vangarde development was not about out of town retail vs in town retail, but was about the city working together.
He said: “When John Lewis comes to the city it will complement what is already there.
“This is about how the wider York can draw the catchment together from a wider area. We will be the magnet, and the catalyst for that happening, and small businesses will grow off the back of it.
“We will be working together to stop retail spend leaking out to other catchment areas.”
Also speaking at the lunch, which was attended by more than 300 people, was the new president of the Chamber Suzanne Burnett.
Mrs Burnett, who has been on the Chamber board for three years, and is managing director of Scarborough recruitment and HR firm Castle Employment, said: “While I don’t under estimate how difficult the economy has been I do feel there is a renewed confidence coming out of this area.
“Prospect for business are improving and there is a great deal to be positive about in our region.
“I personally am looking forward to meeting many of our members from York and the North Yorkshire area, and seeing the opportunities that are arising in our area come to fruition.”
York’s John Lewis store is set to open in April next year, with the creation of 300 jobs, 100 of which have already been filled, with Mr Street describing them as "jobs for life".
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