John Lewis will open massive £30m department store in Cheltenham High Street
John Lewis has announced it will take over the entire Beechwood Shopping Centre in Cheltenham
The whole building will be converted into a massive department store, which will open in 2017.
It will stock the retail giant's full offering, from fashion and homeware to electronics.
Current shops in the building have started to move out and work on redeveloping the space will start early next year.
"Hopefully it's going to be the widest and best offer we will see in Cheltenham across the retail groups," said the director of store development at John Lewis, Tim Harrison.
"We will create a shop that looks and feels special. It will be unique and nothing like any of the John Lewis shops that are near."
The new store will be a throwback to "the golden age of department stores", Mr Harrison added.
He said Cheltenham "jumped off the map as a location" and the company has had sights on opening in town for several years.
"It will be a really special place to go. Cheltenham has a lovely feel to it," he said.
The store will boast more than 115,000 square feet of shopping space across two floors, creating about 250 full and part time jobs .
"We are really keen when we open new shops to ensure these people come from the local community," Mr Harrison added. "The people of Cheltenham will make it."
The existing shopping centre will be changed completely – inside and out.
"When you first look at it in terms of making it a big shopping experience, it provides opportunities ," said Mr Harrison. "It will be completely different.
"But having said that, there are some key elements which I think will be interesting to keep."
He added: "It's a big job and it's a difficult space because of the long, thin nature of it."
Mr Harrison admitted a specific opening date for the store has not been set, but said he wants to see it ready "as early as possible".
The move is a combined investment of £30million between John Lewis, the borough council and the landlord of the shopping centre, BlackRock.
Vice president of real estate at BlackRock John Benham said: "This development improves Cheltenham as a shopping destination, increasing footfall within the town centre and encouraging other retailers to the area.
"At the same time, this ensures the long term viability of the site, creating long-term returns for our investors by improving the building and securing a high quality brand as a tenant."
(Image: An artist's impression of the John Lewis department store which will take over the Beechwood Shopping Centre)