Staff from the existing Horsham Waitrose store with experience totalling 142 years have made their first visit to the site which which will become the supermarket chain’s new home.
Builders are on the former Lifestyle Ford site in Bishopric preparing the ground for the long-awaited John Lewis at Home store as well as a new Waitrose store.
At 29,500 square feet, the new shop, due to be open in May next year, will be double the size of the Piries Place Waitrose, which opened 25 years ago.
Site managers welcomed staff from the existing Horsham store to the site on Wednesday (September 10).
Store manager Paul Newton said: “For me, I started off at the Horsham Waitrose when it opened when I was 16. I’m now 40.
“It was nice to have been there from the start. I’ve seen the old shop slowly go up and been part of the opening of that and then be part of the opening of something bigger, and hopefully have a bigger role in the opening.
“I’ve not heard a bad word said about the move. Everyone seems really excited about Waitrose and John Lewis going up together.
“I think it’s going to be really good for Horsham - bringing some trade into the town. It’s going to put Horsham on the map.”
Other long-serving Waitrose staff were on site with him.
Sylvia Mclaughlan has worked for the company for 31 years, including eight years at the Horsham store. She said: “I’m really excited. It’s the biggest thing I have ever experienced in my time. I have been part of new branches and new openings, but I’ve not been part of something which is starting from scratch.”
Linda D’Souza, who has totted up 19 years’ service added: “There’s going to be so many more people coming to Waitrose. It’s going to be great for Horsham. I can’t wait. Our store now is tired, we need more space.
“I have heard lots of good feedback from customers saying they can’t wait.”
Davina Parmenter, who has worked for Waitrose for 32 years, said: “I’m excited. It’s the first new shop opening as I started a couple of weeks after the last one.
Everything is on track for the two stores to open next May.
There will be about 100,000 square feet of retail space, including the Waitrose store, and an underground carpark with 420 spaces. Customer access will be in Albion Way. Waitrose will be employing a further 60 staff in addition to their 140 current employees. John Lewis at Home will bring 125 jobs to the site.
There will be no break between Waitrose closing the Piries Place store and opening in the Bishopric.