Having a John Lewis in Aberdeen puts us on a par with other bigger cities in Scotland and is a big draw for attracting students, according to an Aberdeen university social scientist.
Heather Morgan is a lecturer in applied health sciences and social scientist, but worked at the city’s John Lewis for five and a half years while studying.
She described how important the department store is to Aberdeen, especially amongst the student population, acting as a “familiar” face to people moving up to the north-east.
Puts Aberdeen on the map
Ms Morgan said: “I think John Lewis is huge to Aberdeen, it puts us on the map, along with Glasgow and Edinburgh.
“In terms of the university, attracting students to come to Aberdeen, it plays a big part in terms of some coming from further afield than locally.
“Having that brand name in Aberdeen is an important factor. Aberdeen is quite far up north, it’s far away from everyone else, it’s quite a big move to make but having a name like John Lewis it makes it not feel as far away, it puts us on the map.
“It’s a big employer. A lot of students can go to John Lewis on placement, so it’s a big part of the community here.
“We don’t have any other department stores here anymore and it is important to have that one-stop shop and if we lose this, it will be very sad.
“For people relocating, it can be quite a big thing to have a John Lewis in the city and when you are trying to attract people up here, it is definitely a draw.”
Memories of working in John Lewis
Ms Morgan has many fond memories of working in the store between 2002 and 2007, and made a lifelong friend while travelling to work on the train from Stonehaven.
A fellow colleague started up a conversation with her after spotting her badge, and they are still friends today.
Ms Morgan said: “I absolutely loved working there, there was a fantastic community spirit, there were other students there from the city and it was such a vibrant place, with a good atmosphere and good social element as well.
“It was a great place to meet local people and be part of something. I was proud to be part of it, working in the city and with the brands I grew up with – I’m from Kent originally so I knew John Lewis in Milton Keynes so loved working there.
“I learned so many interpersonal skills there as it was such a nice place to work.
“John Lewis helped me settle into Aberdeen when I moved here and starting working there as I was mixing with people all different ages from the city, and felt like I became part of the city.”
Save Our Store campaign
The 36-year-old has lived in Aberdeenshire since she was 14 and backed our campaign to save the store from closure.
She added: “We need the profile of John Lewis being in Aberdeen, we don’t need another empty building of that size.
“I don’t know if John Lewis’s mind has been fixed, or if its too late to save it, but we need to try and convince them that it is financially viable to keep open.
“Local people need to get involved and pledge to put their money where their mouth is, we need to really do something as a community, and the councillors to show them the wider picture of the economy.”