Plans for new store

I CONSIDER that it is essential that I respond to the letter headlined ‘Online concerns’ in the County Times of May 10, from James Armstrong, property and development communications manager for Waitrose.

In this letter there is a categorical denial that the Waitrose store in Storrington, will be used, now or in the future, as a distribution/storage base for John Lewis online orders, with all the additional deliveries and traffic that would be generated by this part of the JL business. If this statement is correct then it is a small piece of good news.

However, having read the previous article in the County Times of April 26, I believe there must be a serious communications problem within the John Lewis group. This article, headed ‘New John Lewis service at Waitrose’, states that both the Storrington village, and Horsham town centre Waitrose, stores will be launched as a base for the ‘Click and Collect’ service. Ie, ‘Shoppers have the opportunity to purchase from more than 180,000 products on the Department Store Group’s website, and orders can be collected from these Waitrose shops’.

Karen Dracou, senior manager Multi-Channel for John Lewis, states ‘we are thrilled to be working with Waitrose to extend our Click and Collect service, which accounts for 25 per cent of JohnLewis.com orders’.

This latter comment appears to be confirmed within the plans submitted with the planning application DC/11/2334, where one of the floor plans of the proposed ‘new’ store, clearly identifies an area as ‘e-commerce’ storage.

It will be obvious to all your readers, that within the John Lewis group, the two sectors of the business have failed to communicate with each other, and are thus issuing contradictory statements. Who should we believe?

I am further concerned that if Waitrose is miscommunicating on this aspect, then what else is it withholding from the planning authorities?

It is therefore time for Waitrose senior management to confirm to all parties - planning, parish and district councils, and the general public, particularly the residents of the village community of Storrington - exactly what is their intent for this unwanted and unwarranted superstore, in a Sussex Downland environment. We all await the Waitrose response (only one statement please!).

K. COLLINS

Heatherlands, Storrington

Editor’s note: James Armstrong, property and development communications manager, Waitrose, responds: “I would like to take the opportunity to again reassure residents in Storrington that we have absolutely no intention of using our shop as a distribution centre for John Lewis goods. While there are Waitrose stores where you can pick up John Lewis orders online, Waitrose Storrington will not be one of them despite previous communications suggesting to the contrary.’’