Page last updated at 10:21 GMT, Thursday, 24 September 2009 11:21 UK

'Store wars' as John Lewis opens

John Lewis store in Cardiff
The John Lewis store in Cardiff is the company's biggest outside London

Wales' largest department store has opened in Cardiff, triggering a fightback by other city centre shops.

Thousands of customers are expected at John Lewis after it opens the doors of its biggest store outside London.

It is the first opening in the £675m St David's 2 retail development, with the adjoining shopping centre launching in October.

But other stores in Cardiff are determined to join in the expected retail boom with refurbished premises.

The new 280,000 sq ft (26,000 sq m) four-storey John Lewis store, which opened for the first time at 0930 BST, will employ almost 800 people.

Cardiff council leader Rodney Berman said the store would attract more shoppers to the capital, boosting its growing reputation as a shopping destination.

"The opening of John Lewis is another significant step forward for the city of Cardiff," he said.

"I know there is huge expectation from people, not just in Cardiff but the whole south Wales region, in the opening of this store and it is going to prove to be another major attraction for the city of Cardiff."

Cardiff's current St David's shopping centre attracts around 30 million visitors a year, second only to Birmingham's Bull Ring.

But by the end of the decade it is estimated the Welsh capital will have the UK's busiest shopping centre development with a catchment area of 1.6 million people.

John Lewis is going to play a key role in bringing more people into Cardiff
Rodney Berman, Cardiff council leader

Mr Berman added: "John Lewis is going to play a key role in bringing more people into Cardiff and is another step forward into making the Welsh capital a leading European capital city."


Across the capital, other stores have also been playing a part in boosting Cardiff's shopping image.

The 144-year-old House of Fraser store in St Mary Street has had a multimillion pound refurbishment and rebranding, dropping the Howells name.

Others such as Marks and Spencer and Debenhams have also invested heavily recently, while Next is also being refurbished.

Debenhams in St David's shopping centre re-launched earlier this month with 40 new jobs and a 24,000 sq ft (2,200 sq m) of floor space, extending the beauty department,.

Store manager, Malcolm Kingswell, who has worked at the store for six years, said: "Our cosmetics department is one of the most successful of all the Debenhams stores nationwide, so we really wanted to give our loyal customers the very best cosmetics offer possible."

Marks and Spencer also refurbished its Queen Street store last year creating a new technology department, a cafe overlooking the shopping precinct and environmentally-friendly toilets and lighting.

When the St David's 2 shopping centre opens and links up with the current St David's shopping centre in October, it will bring an additional 100 shops, 21 cafes and restaurants and 304 new homes.

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