December 5 2013 Latest news:
By Paul Geater
Thursday, November 8, 2012
After months of anticipation the town’s new Waitrose and John Lewis at home stores have opened their doors to the public.
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer cut the ceremonial tape to mark the opening of the twin stores at Futura Park, on the site of the former Crane engineering plant.
Queues of eager shoppers gathered before the doors officially opened at 9am – and once inside there was a keen scramble to look around what was on offer.
Ipswich is the first centre in the country to have a Waitrose superstore and a John Lewis at home on the same site – the two branches of the employee-owned partnership share back office facilities and the Waitrose cafe can be accessed from the first floor of the John Lewis at home store.
The new development has created 375 jobs – 250 in Waitrose and 125 in John Lewis at home. At present the staff (or partners) are dedicated to one store or the other – but in the future they may work between the two.
Mr Gummer was enthusiastic about the new arrival – the largest new retail development in Ipswich since the turn of the century.
He said: “I think it is wonderfully exciting news because it brings two of the biggest retail names to a substantial site in the town for the first time.”
He was not concerned about fears that the out-of-town location would pull people away from the town centre.
Mr Gummer said: “We must not allow the good to be the enemy of the ideal! This will attract shoppers from a wide area of Suffolk who would not otherwise have come to Ipswich at all.
“What we now need to do is to persuade them to complete their journey by visiting the town centre as well – but the important thing is they’ll be coming to Ipswich rather than going to Norwich or Cambridge.”
John Lewis at home sells the company’s range of household goods, furniture and electronic goods.
It does not sell clothing directly – that is a condition of its planning permission – but it is possible to order John Lewis clothes and collect them later from the store.
Have you been to the new stores? Did you enjoy shopping there? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
THE new stores proved so popular that there was serious traffic congestions around the entrance to Futura Park – it was so bad that even the special guest almost failed to make it!
Ben Gummer had to abandon his car and walk the final few hundred yards to ensure that he made the official opening where he was cutting the ribbon.
And three hours after the stores opened to the public, there was still gridlock around the Warren Heath roundabout on Felixstowe Road.
Waitrose and John Lewis did have parking attendants showing shoppers to spaces on the park – but the challenge was to reach the stores in the first place!