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Gloucestershire Business News

VIDEO: Exclusive peek inside Cheltenham's new £23m John Lewis store before it opens

The wraps were taken off Cheltenham's new flagship John Lewis department store today and Punchline was given a guided tour before the official opening this October.

No expense has been spared for the £23 million store on the site of the former Beechwood shopping centre off Cheltenham High Street.

Today the store was a hive of activity as teams of workers put the finishing touches with the aroma of freshly sawn wood and new electrical fittings in the air.

As branch manager Martin Bundy showed us around he said: "I feel passionate about shops and this store takes it to a new level. It has been a wonderful transformation.

"We are exactly on programme. I am very excited."

The front of the shop is anchored by a 9,000 sq ft premium beauty hall featuring leading brands across 18 beauty counters - including Charlotte Tilbury, Chanel, Dior and Becca.

"We have a huge space for the beauty hall with some really exciting architectural points," said Mr Bundy.

New services include a bookable area to get your nails, eye brows and hair done. There is an "experience" desk where customers can book services and the first John Lewis store to have a personal styling suite just for men.

Style and fashion feature strongly in the new store, which, as you would expect, is environmentally friendly when it comes to lighting and heating.

Above the two floors is a spectacular atrium with a wall feature displaying panels which change shape and colour depending on which direction the natural light is shining in. The 130-cover restaurant is the first that can be accessed separately from the rest of the store.

John Lewis Cheltenham is the 51st shop to join the John Lewis Partnership estate and will provide the town with around 300 new jobs. It has taken over a year to construct but the results are stunning.

In all it covers 115,000 sq ft and offers fashion, home and technology products and services, boasting that it treats its customers with "flair and fairness."

The business model for the John Lewis Partnership, including Waitrose, is somewhat unique. All 85,000 permanent staff are in effect partners who own the business and share in the profits and benefits.

John Lewis has annual gross sales of more than £11.5 billion.

Branch manager Martin Bundy who has been with the partnership for over 18 years, starting as a shop floor assistant at the retailer's Southsea department store and working his way up.

Martin has held senior roles in several shops including Southampton, Bluewater, Newbury and Chichester branch. He has also held various project and branch development roles in the company's head office.

The attention to detail at the new store is incredible. For instance, a team of five will ensure the linen is perfectly folded for customers. It will take 15 days to fill the new store with £6 million of stock.

There is parking for 331 cars and a dedicated pick-up zone for customers' goods.

Throughout the construction process, the project has:

• Used over 90,000 metres of cable - more than sixteen times the length of the Gold Cup race at Cheltenham Racecourse

• Will stock more than 700 pillows on opening day - if stacked on top of one another, they would reach 405 metres high - more than eight times the height as Cheltenham's Eagle Tower

• Laid over 22,500 ceramic tiles - which if laid end-to-end, it would be enough to tile the perimeter of Montpellier Gardens twice

• Used more than 6000 metres of covering for electric wiring - enough to stretch from Cheltenham Town Hall to Cheltenham Spa railway station and back again

But customers will have to wait a little while longer before they experience it all- John Lewis Cheltenham will not open to the public until October 18. The Christmas displays are already being planned.

Martin Bundy said: "With opening day quickly approaching, we're so excited to share this first glimpse inside John Lewis Cheltenham. The building continues to transform day by day and you can now get a fantastic impression of how the various areas of the shop will look when we open our doors."

Gavin Smith, Store Development Senior Manager at John Lewis, said: "Our team on the ground have done a fantastic job and while there's clearly more work to be done, we're now on the home straight and heading towards opening day. Within a matter of months we'll be welcoming customers through the doors into the first John Lewis shop in Gloucestershire."

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