Worcester’s MP, Robin Walker last week officially opened the new 38,000 Sq. ft. Waitrose store in London Road, Worcester. This is the first major investment from the employee owned John Lewis Partnership in the city and will create over 130 jobs for local people. Robin joined hundreds of local residents for the formal opening of the store and joined his 9 year old constituent, Isobel Brooks in cutting the ribbon.

Isobel had won a competition at Nunnery Wood Primary School to design an illustration for the shop’s bags for life and her drawing of Worcester Cathedral appears on 5000 bags that were specially made for the opening. Robin attended the pre-launch briefing for staff where the new employees were told how to go about welcoming customers on the special day. He also met the first customers into the shop who were presented with champagne and flowers.

The new store includes a wine bar, a sushi counter, a dry cleaners, a bakery and a café as well as the full range of supermarket sections and clothes from John Lewis. It also hosts a drop off point for John Lewis online deliveries so that Worcester customers can order the whole range of John Lewis products and pick them up within the city. The store has its own large car park and although roadworks have caused delays on London Road whilst the road layout was being changed, traffic was flowing freely throughout the day of the launch.

Partners to whom Robin was introduced included a number of Worcester people for whom this was their first job, one deaf person who found out about the opportunity through the disability confident event that Robin helped to organise at Worcester’s Guildhall and one partner for whom this was their first job after three years out of work. Robin was taken on a tour of the store by its new manager Scott Whittaker.

Importantly the store will also support local charities and community events in a number of ways: Through its Partner Volunteering programme, which will provide 250 staff hours each year. The second is its Community Matters ‘green token’ scheme, which will see £1,000 shared between three causes every month.  The first trio to benefit will be St Richard’s Hospice, Acorns Children’s Hospice, and New College Worcester, a residential school and college for young people aged 11 to 19 who are blind or partially sighted. All charities that Robin regularly supports.

In addition, the store includes a community room, providing free space to local charities and voluntary groups. The room will be available for use whenever the store is trading, including weekends.

Commenting on the opening, Scott Whittaker said:

“We’re really proud to be opening in Worcester, to have generated new employment opportunities for local people, and to be adding to the investment that the city continues to attract. Waitrose Worcester will be among our largest in the UK and a real flagship for our brand.”

Robin said

“This is a tremendously exciting opportunity for Worcester and it is a real vote of confidence in the city that Waitrose have opened one of their biggest stores in the country here. I was delighted to see so many people starting a new job and not just any job but one where the employees all have a stake in the business. It was also brilliant to see the way in which Waitrose wants to work with local charities and support voluntary groups in Worcester.”

Notes to editors:

For more information and coverage of the launch see:

http://waitrose.pressarea.com/pressrelease/details/78/SHOPS%20&%20EXPANSION_14/6459

About Waitrose:

All Waitrose employees have become members of the John Lewis Partnership, entitling them to exclusive benefits, including leisure and learning subsidies, shopping discounts and a share in profits in

Waitrose – winner of the Best Supermarket and Best Food and Grocery Retailer awards – now has 349 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 60 convenience branches, and another 27 shops at Welcome Break locations. Waitrose also exports its products to 58 countries worldwide and has eight shops which operate under licence in the Middle East.

For more information on Waitrose values see:

http://www.waitrose.com/home/inspiration/about_waitrose/the_waitrose_way.html

For more information on Waitrose expansion around the UK see:

http://waitrose.pressarea.com/pressrelease?categoryfilter=14