Retailer John Lewis opens its second Kent store next week and hinted it might not be the last.
John Lewis at Home in Longfield Road, Tunbridge Wells, is the partnership's fourth store in the UK to adopt the new format, joining Poole (pictured left), Croydon and Swindon. It has created 190 jobs.
The £9 million store - formerly a Homebase outlet - does not aim to compete with its bigger sister at Bluewater but will stock almost as many lines in furniture, electrical and homeware. It will not carry any clothing or fashion but will still stock 30,000 lines. Customers will also be able to order online and collect from the store.
Cllr Roy Bullock leader of Tunbridge Wells council, was shown around the new 40,000 sq ft store. He said: "This is hopefully the first stage of John Lewis's presence in Tunbridge Wells. I'm sure residents in Tunbridge Wells and the wider area are going to flock into this store. I welcome it."
Tim Harrison, John Lewis head of format development, said the business was associated with a lot of potential schemes and would not comment on any further plans for Tunbridge Wells.
But the town had a fantastic catchment area, estimated at 280,000 people. "Certainly John Lewis has a bright future in Kent and we really would welcome future developments in Tunbridge Wells," he said.
He was confident that traffic congestion in North Farm would not affect trade. "I think we're at the right end, because the congestion is at the other end. I know it's a difficult area but we've got our own parking, good access and there's a lot of retail here. And people in the south east are more tolerant to queueing