John Lewis has opened its first Essex store in Chelmsford as the retailer continues to invest in its bricks-and-mortar estate.

The 90,000 sq ft store, covering three floors at the new Bond Street development, will stock more than 65,000 products and employ 300 staff.  

The shop, which has cost £18m to launch, includes a 7,900 sq ft beauty hall, with 14 premium counters including MAC, Charlotte Tilbury and Nars.

The retailer, which this month reported a 31.2% slide in half-year operating profits, is also poised to open a new store at Leeds’ Victoria Gate development next month and will open branches in Oxford and Westfield London next year.

The Chelmsford shop features fashion brands including Ralph Lauren, Whistles, Finery and John Lewis’ new own-brand luxury womenswear label, Modern Rarity.

It also includes Bar:Cafe, a new concept from Benugo, serving Prosecco on tap. 

“It’s one of our most modern shops to date and brings together the very best of John Lewis’ products and services,” said store manager Laura Rawstron.

John Lewis boss Andy Street is expected to be confirmed today as the Conservative candidate to run as West Midlands mayor, which would mean he will step down as the rmanaging director after nine years in the job.

John Lewis operates 47 stores across the UK.