Video: First look at new £37m flagship John Lewis store in Leeds

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The Yorkshire Evening Post was given a first look at the £37m John Lewis store at Victoria Gate – as two new names sign up to the development.

The flagship John Lewis store will be the first to include five shopping floors and also boasts a rooftop restaurant and champagne bar, in-store beauty spa, coffee experience, cafés, personal stylists and a community room, which is available for local charities and groups to use for free.

Store manager James Prince pictured in the new store. Pictures: Simon Hulme.

Store manager James Prince pictured in the new store. Pictures: Simon Hulme.

The countdown is now on as the shop is fully fitted out in time for its grand opening later this year.

Gavin Smith, senior manager of implementation at John Lewis, has been with the company for 27 years. He said: “Leeds is our biggest and most exciting project that we are working on this year. The atrium is my favourite part because it’s so different.

“The scale of it gives the building a real presence.

“The store is evolving daily and when it is full of stock, it will really look and feel special.”

A view through one of the John Lewis windows, which looks out onto the neighbouring Victoria Gate arcade.

A view through one of the John Lewis windows, which looks out onto the neighbouring Victoria Gate arcade.

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Getting the shop ready for the launch is no easy task, with every single step of the escalators being tested and each floor tile being checked for dents and cracks.

The John Lewis exterior.

The John Lewis exterior.

Mr Smith said: “We will have 21 days to get it from an empty shell to a full shop that is ready to go.

“Every bath towel, sheet and flannel has to be folded in a certain way. It takes two days of folding and it’s quite a task to ensure we do it to the best standards.”

Mr Smith added: “We don’t just build a square box and make it a shop. Some of the walls are built at an angle and there are small architectural features that help it stand out.

“It’s about making it interesting and getting people into the shop rather than going online.

Gavin Smith, senior implementation manager.

Gavin Smith, senior implementation manager.

“We want it to be an experience.”

Head of branch for John Lewis, James Prince, said: “It is a stunning landmark building for the city. The shop looks amazing already.

“The way people shop is changing, and customers want shops to offer them more than just products.

“We continue to offer more that can’t be done online.

“The &Beauty concept in particular is very exciting, with John Lewis Leeds being one of the first shops to have this.”

The &Beauty section will offer more than 120 treatments from massages to manicures.

The &beauty in-store spa at John Lewis in Birmingham.

The &beauty in-store spa at John Lewis in Birmingham.

It comes as Victoria Gate announces two new arrivals, with footwear company Russell and Bromley and luxury leather brand Aspinal of London set to open stores at the site.

The new additions mean the £165m development is now 74 per cent let ahead of its grand opening, which will be held later this year.

Aspinal of London will take up a 133sq m unit whilst Russell and Bromley will have a 169sq m store.

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