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LIVE COVERAGE: John Lewis officially opens in Exeter

By e_glanfield  |  Posted: October 12, 2012

  • John Lewis - official opening

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After months of preparation, Exeter's John Lewis store has officially opened its doors to the public today.

Customers waited outside the new store on Sidwell Street from 8am ahead of the grand opening at 9am.

BREAKING NEWS: Two floors of John Lewis in Exeter evacuated and closed after pipe bursts on opening day

A bumper photo gallery of pics from today’s opening has just been added! Click here to view the first photos from Exeter’s John Lewis.

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You can follow the opening and all the reaction in our live blog below.

Stay tuned throughout the day on ThisisExeter as we continue to bring you live video footage, hundreds of pictures and all the reaction as the city's biggest store officially opens.

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• Hundreds of people still flooding through the doors hours after the opening

• Around 200 people stormed the entrance at 9am when the doors officially opened

• Shoppers queued from 8am to get their first glimpse of the new store

• Managing Director of John Lewis, Andy Street, said “It is a beautiful shop we have given birth to today”

• Branch Manager Kate Connock said: "This is all my Christmases come at once!"

• It is the first John Lewis store to open in Devon and Cornwall

2.20pm UPDATE:

BREAKING NEWS: Two floors of John Lewis in Exeter evacuated and closed after pipe bursts on opening day

11.20am UPDATE:

VIDEO: Reaction to Exeter's new John Lewis store:

10.20am UPDATE:

VIDEO: After an hour there are still people pouring in to Exeter's new John Lewis store.

10.08am UPDATE:

Reporter Paul Strange said the queues are building at the coffee shop in the store as shoppers are desperate to check out the rooftop facilities. After checking out all avenues of the store, he has described it as "world-class" and says it is a "breath of fresh air for the city".

9.59am UPDATE:

VIDEO: Interview with Kate Connock, Branch Manager of Exeter's John Lewis:

9.45am UPDATE:

Store manager Kate Connock: "This is all my Christmases come at once!"

9.40am UPDATE:

VIDEO: The store has been open for around 40 minutes now and shoppers are still flooding in.


• Around 200 people stormed the entrance at 9am when the doors opened

• Managing Director of John Lewis, Andy Street, said “It is a beautiful shop we have given birth to today”

• Branch Manager Kate Connock told staff they were the “final piece of the jigsaw”

9.25am UPDATE:

Reporter Paul Strange is at Exeter's John Lewis and says the store "has a lot of class".

He said: "John Lewis has been open 25 minutes now and people are settling now that the first excitement is over.

"Shoppers are clearly impressed."

9.18am UPDATE:

VIDEO: Check out this footage for the first view from the rooftop cafe in Exeter's John Lewis.

9.10am UPDATE:

Managing director for John Lewis, Andy Street, said the intention of the first day of Exeter’s John Lewis was for shoppers to have a “truly memorable John Lewis experience.”

9.08am UPDATE:

Around 200 people rush through the doors, desperate to get a first glimpse of Exeter's newest and biggest store.


The doors have officially opened! Cheers and clapping erupt as the first customers enter the new store.

LIVE FOOTAGE: Customers pour into John Lewis as the doors are officially opened.

8.58am UPDATE:

There is live music entertainment at the entrance as the store prepares to officially open. Only two minutes to go!

8.57am UPDATE:

Following the speeches, staff members have rushed off to their floor to take up their spot to welcome customers. Reporter Fran McElhone says there is genuine excitement and lots of smiles among all the staff.

8.56am UPDATE:

Kate Connock, Manager of Exeter’s store, said: “ Without the combined efforts of so many people we wouldn’t be here.

She said to the staff “you are the final piece of the jigsaw” before telling them to “exceed and excel and excite customers”.

8.54am UPDATE:

The speeches are underway at the entrance to the new store where staff and partners of the business have gathered. John Lewis' Managing Director, Andy Street, has described Exeter's store as an “outstanding and genuine achievement.”

He said: “It is a special day for John Lewis as a company and for Exeter and for all the people starting their new jobs.

“It is also a special day for the John Lewis business as a whole.

“It is a beautiful shop we’ve given birth to today.”

8.50am UPDATE:

Reporter Paul Strange has been speaking to some of those shoppers in the queue. Lizzy Underhill from St Thomas and Sam Bishop from Exeter told him they are both big fans of John Lewis. They are excited to see the haberdashery department. Lizzie said: "It's a fantastic store. I love it!"

8.46am UPDATE:

There are now around 40 people in the queue with just under 15 minutes until the grand opening. Despite a sunny start this morning, the rain is starting now.

8.38am UPDATE:

LIVE FOOTAGE: Speeches ahead of the official opening at 9am.

8.31am UPDATE:

The queue is now starting to curl around the building. Our reporter Fran McElhone said men and women of all ages have turned out to get a first glimpse of the store.

8.27am UPDATE:

VIDEO: Shoppers queuing outside the store.

8.15am UPDATE:

Ann Miller, 57, and daughter Rachel, 25, both from Exeter, are also in the queue and say they are “intrigued” to see what the new store is like. They told reporter Fran McElhone that John Lewis will “set a different standard for the city.”

8.10am UPDATE:

VIDEO: The first shoppers have arrived outside the new John Lewis store.

8.01am UPDATE:

Pauline Roberts, 76, from Bude and granddaughter Jemma Gill, 31, and grandson Henry, from Hatherleigh, were the first people in the queue this morning.

Jemma said: "I didn't think we would get here first but happy we are.

"We woke up at 6am to come down here to do some Christmas shopping. The queue was much larger when my husband waited for his new iPhone outside Apple the other day!"


One hour to go until the grand opening!

7.51am UPDATE:

If you want a sneak peak inside Exeter's John Lewis before it officially opens you can check out our bumper photo gallery which previews the store.

7.49am UPDATE:

John Lewis Fact - 75% of the fixtures and fittings in the Exeter branch have not been used in a John Lewis store before.

7.40am UPDATE:

Exeter's John Lewis will be officially opened at 9am following a speech to partners (staff) by branch manager Kate Connock. It will be opened by representatives of the three John Lewis sponsored local charities; St Petrocks, FORCE and Balloons.

7.25am UPDATE:

Reporter Rich Booth has been speaking to some market traders in Sidwell Street this morning. They are expecting an increase in sales today as hundreds flock to the area to get a glimpse of John Lewis.

Market trader Chris from Badgers Books said: "We are expecting a busier day than usual due to the opening and have been setting up earlier than usual to get prepared for the big day."

7.15am UPDATE:

We have reporters on the ground to get all the news and reaction from the opening. You will also be able to watch the grand opening live on ThisisExeter as we stream live footage from inside the store.

7.10am UPDATE:

After months of preparation John Lewis will swing open its doors to the public at 9am this morning. Hundreds of people are expected to gather outside as the first John Lewis for Devon and Cornwall is unveiled.


Good morning all. Follow us here on ThisisExeter as we bring you live coverage of John Lewis opening in Exeter. We will have live video footage, plenty of pictures and hundreds of updates throughout the day as the city's biggest store opens its doors to the public.

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  • fazer58  |  October 13 2012, 2:25PM

    It would be nice if the Herald had covered the Incinerator and Airport machinations in such depth,that's the PLYMOUTH Herald chaps. Is the news reported or bought these days?

    |   3
  • leeroymeboy  |  October 13 2012, 12:39AM

    For me this story is almost as good as the other Herald exclusive; "Plymouth boy, 13, questioned by police over assault with a marshmallow" http://tinyurl.com/9ykjwbp Friday, April 01, 2011 - Thisisplymouth

    |   1
  • CharlieDodd  |  October 12 2012, 9:06PM

    I'm not a businessman but if I was opening a store I'd do it in big Plymouth (population 260,000) rather than in little Exeter (pop 120,000) I mean, i'd get twice the customers (and profits) in Plymouth..:) (Woolies and Hughes were still vacant in Plymouth last time I looked, so it beats me why Lewis didn't set up shop in one of those premises)

    |   -5
  • PRDavid  |  October 12 2012, 8:44PM

    "Live coverage" of a shop opening??! What next, a reporter live at the scene of a newly painted lamp post?

    |   3
  • BettyD  |  October 12 2012, 8:11PM

    So why are we having this carp in a Plymouth newspaper?????

    |   1
  • Winstonsmith0  |  October 12 2012, 6:56PM

    So that's what a vibrant city, attracting new investment and offering job opportunities, looks like. I assume these videos and photos are the closest we, here in Plymouth, will get to anything similar. Shame our council do not have the necessary to attract such investment. Ikea could set up in Plymouth almost overnight - I see they have built the giant warehouse already; out on Central Park. It's the big square building with the front still wrapped in industrial clingfilm. (not sure if there is a bus service to get you there) Plymouth: space of waste

    |   3
  • leeroymeboy  |  October 12 2012, 5:14PM

    Serious question, but why is a shop opening in another city news?

    |   3
  • leeroymeboy  |  October 12 2012, 5:00PM

    Live coverage: Shop opens in Exeter. What.the.f...!

    |   1
  • MagicalOne  |  October 12 2012, 4:54PM

    Come on John Lewis , after your initial foray into the south west Derry's former department store a PRIME LOCATION is awaiting the John Lewis magic , a large catchment area twixt Devon and Cornwall and beautiful building just needing the love and magic of JLP .

    |   2
  • ChezGuevara  |  October 12 2012, 4:42PM

    John Lewis were supposed to open in the Plymouth Mall, but a contingent from John Lewis came down, took one look at our fading City and promptly stated that Plymouth was not a John Lewis City, Plymouth was a Primark City. Needless to say, we didn't get a John Lewis, but Primark are doing exceptionally well. The point of this is, if ever they change their minds, we need to boycott them!

    |   1