John Lewis is set to pump £24 million into improvements at its flagship Edinburgh store including moving the restaurant up a floor.
Builders are working through the night on the new-look store – the biggest refurbishment in the shop’s 43 year history – by the end of August. The changes are intended to make it easier for shoppers during construction of the £1 billion St James Quarter redevelopment.
The shop will remain the anchor store in the new St James Quarter development and is staying open throughout the construction work, with a customer entrance created on Leith Street.
The refurbishment, which will be the shop layout until it is re-connected with the St James Quarter in 2020, will see a new shopping floor on level five – previously out of bounds for customers – transformed into contemporary eatery “The Place to Eat” with large windows offering views across the Forth.
The new floor will also be the retailer’s first “smart home” shopping area in Scotland giving customers an opportunity to take a closer look at the latest home technology.
Head of branch at John Lewis, Barry Blamire said the department would demonstrate how new gadgets can be add added homes.
He said: “The smart home department brings together connected gadgets and tech into one space which will enable customers to experience what it’s like to have a fully connected home.
“It will show shoppers technology which allows them to link up their mobile phone with appliances to help simplify their lives.”
An imitation kitchen will be set up to show the latest products which use smart technology including washing machines, smart fridge freezers and security cameras which stream live videos.
Mr Blamire added: “We believe this department will bring the products alive for customers so they can have the opportunity to engage with and experience what these gadgets can do. We will stock all the key players in the market including Sonos, Nest, Amazon Echo and Dot, and Philips Hue.”
Alongside the smart home concept a new electrical department will be opened, which will include a photography station with one of the widest ranges of cameras and accessories in the capital.
And replacing the current restaurant on the fourth floor will be a new furniture department alongside the lighting department and picture gallery.
Store bosses say the new is a bid to ensure customers’ shopping experience remains as free from disruption as possible throughout the St James Centre revamp.
“Inevitably its a large project and there is a level of disruption but we’re aiming to keep that to a minimum,” he said.
“Most of the work is happening outside of the shop’s opening hours to minimise the impact on shoppers and we are being proactive with our customers in the meantime.
“We would also like to thank our loyal customers for their patience as the shop is transformed and we look forward to unveiling our new look shop.”