The John Lewis/Waitrose Foodhall at John Lewis Bluewater has now been up and running for two weeks. At 16,500 sq ft, it is around a third larger than the Oxford Street format on which it has been modelled and is now the biggest food collaboration between the two retailers that form the John Lewis Partnership.
According to Waitrose director of store development Diana Hunter, this is likely to be as big as it gets within the confines of John Lewis stores, as beyond this “you begin to look at supermarkets rather than at foodhalls”, as she puts it.
The extra space has been put to good use at Bluewater, with three eateries rather than one: a patisserie, a charcuterie (where you can sit and eat a plate of assorted cheeses or cured meats) and a wine bar. In the latter, should you choose to have a session, there are more than 400 wines on offer. And for those shopping the Bluewater food, around 100 products are exclusive to the location, although these are due to hit the Oxford Street shelves shortly.
It is the merchandising more than anything else that really impresses though. Hunter, wearing her Waitrose hat, says that John Lewis’s expertise in this area serves to make this a positive collaboration between the two brands and, certainly, the displays make you want to reach for your wallet.
Couple all of this with the fact that the food’s only real opposition comes in the shape of the Marks & Spencer food offer, and this venture looks set for good times.