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John Lewis are demanding 400 extra car park spaces before they will consider a move to Guildford, two well placed sources have told the Guildford Dragon. The leading retailer is already due in the next few months to make a planning application for a new Waitrose store which includes 170 extra car park spaces.
A move by John Lewis to Guildford has been rumoured to be possible for some time in connection with the expansion of The Friary Centre, recently sold off by developers Westfield to co-owners Hermes. The move of Guildford bus station has proved to be a controversial part of any plan.
It is known that Guildford Borough Council want to have the area between Commercial Road and Leapale Road redeveloped and improved but an extra dedicated car park has not before been a pre-condition. The existing plan proposed before the Westfield sale did not include any extra car parking because of worries about the impact on traffic in Guildford. Instead, Westfield had agreed to fund Park and Ride facilities.
Concerns exist amongst those observing the possible developments in the area that an extra 570 new spaces, in a town centre already, they say, “one of the most congested in the country”, would be intolerable.
Tony Rooth, Leader of Guildford Borough Council, when asked about the reports said: “I have no comment on that.”
A spokesman for John Lewis said: “Guildford is a significant retail centre so our name is linked to it from time to time, and we do monitor what is going on there, but we have nothing to report.”
The financial performance of John Lewis Partnership has remained good despite the recession. They have reported increased turnover for every year since 2001. The latest figures for 2011-12 show turnover as £8.73m billion and pre-tax profit as £393.3m, a slight drop on the 2010-11 figure of £431m.
According to Wikipedia:
As of 2011 the John Lewis division operates 28 full-line department stores, 4 John Lewis at Home Stores and a webstore. The stores are in a mixture of city centre and regional shopping centre locations. They are generally the largest or second largest department store in their local market. The flagship Oxford Street store in London remains the largest John Lewis outlet in the UK.
As well as the John Lewis department stores the partnership operates five Waitrose Food & Home stores combining the group’s Waitrose supermarkets with some of the John Lewis division’s non-food ranges.
Newer John Lewis at home stores are opening to cater for areas which have no local John Lewis department near them. They are around a third of a size of a normal department store. The first store opened in Poole in October 2009. Croydon followed in August 2010 with Tunbridge Wells and Swindon opening later that year. In 2011, Tamworth and Chester both opened in the autumn. This type of store contains both Home and Electrical departments with services such as a cafe and ‘Click and Collect’ also available.