John Lewis today opened the first of its new full-line flexible-format department stores in Exeter city centre, marking the start of a new phase in the retailer's accelerated growth strategy.

John Lewis opens new-format store in Exeter

John Lewis today opened the first of its new full-line flexible-format department stores in Exeter city centre, marking the start of a new phase in the retailer’s accelerated growth strategy.

John Lewis opens new-format store in Exeter

The flexible format sits between a John Lewis At Home store and a traditional John Lewis department store in terms of size. However, it can offer the full John Lewis assortment by making the most of the opportunities for omni-channel shopping.

From 8am today, over 150 customers queued outside the shop eagerly awaiting the chance to explore product lines across home, fashion, beauty, consumer electronics and nursery. The 65,000sq ft branch, whose opening was preceded by a pop-up shop in Exeter, will boost local employment with the creation of around 300 new jobs.

In the new store, specially-designed interactive information screens will take customers through a number of questions to help find the best product to match their needs. Digital store guides have been introduced to ensure customers can find their way around easily, and larger screens fitted on walls throughout provide information on products available not only in the shop but from the entire John Lewis assortment.

“We understand that customers now shop in many different ways,” said John Lewis head of format development Tim Harrison. “We’ve chosen our Exeter shop to test a range of new concepts and trial a selection of interactive technologies for the very first time.

“Over the coming months we’ll be looking at customer feedback and exploring how these initiatives can be enhanced and added to, not only for our shoppers in Exeter but across the country in other John Lewis shops.”

John Lewis has identified at least 10 locations across the UK which could support its new format department store and has already announced the opening of shops in York, planned for a 2013 opening, and Chelmsford, due to open in 2014.

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