John Lewis could spark flurry of new arrivals
The opening of a new John Lewis department store would spark a flurry of new arrivals to Lincoln by well-known high street chains, it is claimed.
Business leaders in the south of the country say the opening of a store here would provide a boost to the city's economy.
They spoke 22 months after the chain launched a major store in the city of Exeter.
The Echo reported last week on the unveiling of a new £700 million vision to transform central Lincolnshire.
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The blueprint confirms the county's commitment to the Lindongate shopping development and also refers to the prospect of expanding the St Mark's retail complex.
Chairman of the central Lincolnshire joint strategic planning committee, Ric Metcalfe, said a number of national chains had expressed interest in the city, particularly John Lewis.
In October 2011, hundreds of people lined the streets of Exeter for the opening of a new John Lewis store.
The city, like Lincoln, is a relatively small place with a large catchment area.
Derek Phillips, vice-president of Exeter Chamber of Commerce said: "The opening of John Lewis here in Exeter has had a fantastic effect. People had been asking for a John Lewis for years. Originally they were going to open a home store but after receiving many letters from members of the public asking for a full store they changed their plans. A full John Lewis opened in October 2011 employing 300 members of staff. After they opened our empty shop vacancy rate has dropped. We do not doubt that this is because of the influence of John Lewis. Our vacancy rate is among the lowest in the UK at 5.5 per cent.
"Other businesses have been attracted to Exeter such as The White Company and Ikea, which specifically mentioned John Lewis when applying for a unit. Footfall is up significantly with shops such as Primark stating a 30 per cent increase in customers. The opening of John Lewis has had nothing but a positive effect here and they even agreed to a term in their rental agreement to open till 7pm weekdays which has brought in evening shoppers and encouraged other businesses to open late to cater for those who work long hours during the week."
John Harvey, Exeter City Centre Manager, explained other positive aspects it had experienced in the aftermath of the store opening.
Mr Harvey said: "I am sure that every one of my counterparts would want a John Lewis in their town centre. We have seen an immediate uplift.
"As soon as the announcement was made many existing businesses relocated to a city centre location and new businesses expressed interest.
"Hollister and Urban Outfitters expressed interest almost immediately after the announcement and opened stores just before the John Lewis launch."
Michael Armstrong, Events and promotions manager at Lincoln BIG said: "It would be absolutely fabulous for Lincoln if we were to get a John Lewis department store. Adding a major brand and household name like John Lewis would be the icing on the cake to a growing strong city centre."
To have your say on the new core plan for central Lincolnshire visit: http://microsites.lincolnshire.gov.uk/ Download/52567