I've had a conversation with someone from John Lewis about the dearth of stores in the NorthEast. The first was Durham, but they closed it after a couple of years. Apparently its the only store they have opened and then had to close. The Northern Echo report on the closure is still available as is a blog report from a trade journal. An unusual failure in a usually successful store . These reports blame the location - had they been elsewhere in the City Centre they would have been OK
They managed to sell baked beans , and not much else. Apparently that's all that students buy from an upmarket supermarket.
Its relevant because of the site that was Osborne Garage.
This is what we have at the moment (a screenshot of the Google Streetview because it will change)
And there is an approved Planning Application to convert it into a store. When it was applied for (Apr-Aug 2009) the rumour has been either a Waitrose or a Sainsbury.
Some competition for Tescos down the road.