John Lewis boss Andy Street believes the success of their record-breaking High Wycombe store will continue to boost business throughout the town, despite concerns that growth in out-of-town areas is damaging High Street traders.

Speaking exclusively to the Bucks Free Press, the company's managing director has denied that the arrival of big name brands in Handy Cross and Cressex is damaging town centre business.

Celebrating a record-breaking week for the store and company, Mr Street says the lure of John Lewis has helped High Wycombe in the last 25 years and hopes the town will reap the rewards of their success.

He said: “The way to think about this is it’s the size of the total cake against the split of the cake, and what is very clear is when John Lewis comes to a city or town, the total cake grows.

“Obviously, we came here a long time ago, but the point is still right. This is an attraction for High Wycombe overall and that is how it needs to be thought about.

“If the cake grows there’s enough for the city centre to thrive and indeed our town to thrive and when we’ve gone to other cities that’s clearly been the case - our presence draws people in.

Bucks Free Press:

John Lewis managing director Andy Street (centre) visits the High Wycombe store.

“It makes the shopping centre in its totality much more attractive and that’s how you need to think about it.”

As well as Next, Waitrose – a part of the John Lewis partnership – and Costco are set to join the growing trade on the outskirts of High Wycombe town centre and despite other examples of John Lewis opening town centre branches, Mr Street believes they made the right move when opening in Cressex.

He said: “We choose what is right for each location. Normally, you are absolutely right, we go for big city centre locations.

“But, there are some locations where actually it is better to be on the edge of the town and this is one of those – it has proven over 25 years to be an enormous attraction.

“It’s good that we’re now the focal point for development around Cressex, and welcome the other businesses here.”

Mr Street has been in his current role since 2007 and during this time John Lewis's gross sales have increased in excess of 50 per cent, to over £4bn.

It has opened 18 new shops, and the business has seen annual sales of over £1bn.

Bucks Free Press:

John Lewis managing director visited the High Wycombe store last week - ARM Images.

Absorbing the Christmas rush, Mr Street was enthused by the company’s recent successes and was excited to be heading into the “most important” time of year.

He said: “It’s what it’s all about really. I call the first half of the year the dress rehearsal for Christmas because this is really when we make our sales, make our profit and satisfy our customers.”

Ambitions are out of this world

In recent years, the company’s long-awaited Christmas adverts have become a household favourite.

But this year, Mr Street and his team decided to change their marketing philosophy by using it to help promote the work of Age UK – a charity supporting older people in later life.

Mr Street said: “We’ve done these thoughtful gifting adverts for a number of years now, but this year we thought it would be good to add just another little dimension to it to make it a charitable cause.

“Viewers will be the judges, but I actually think it really resonates with our customers and shops like this will be working with the local Age UK over the next few weeks.”

Bucks Free Press:

'Man on the moon' - John Lewis television advert

As part of the charitable cause, the organisation will be working with Age UK Bucks and holding Christmas lunches for those who need it most.

Big to changes to shopping habits

Constant changes to shopping habits has seen the company and High Wycombe store evolve over the years in a bid fulfil the needs of customers.

Mr Street said: “We opened here back in 1989 and we had the big refurbishment here in 2013. Over that 25-year period we have really built up a phenomenal trade here, so this is one of the top few of our shops around the country.”

And, he feels their efforts have paid off as they celebrated a record week for the company and branch following huge successes over the ‘Black Friday’ weekend last month.

High Wycombe John Lewis managing director, Gordon Stenton, said: “It was just an amazing week, but actually it feels so good when you plan for something which is a huge logistical operation and it goes well.

“The outcome for partners and customers was outstanding.”