The hunt for top managers at the new John Lewis store in Oxford has started, despite the branch not opening for another five years.

Bosses say they want to start interviewing candidates now for managerial positions to ensure the store, which is set to be the flagship of the new Westgate development, is given the best possible start.

John Lewis learning and development coach Cathy Taylor said: "The people we are looking for will have at least six GCSEs, including English and maths, and will either be finishing A-Levels or be involved in further education.

"We would also consider those with existing managerial experience looking to develop their career. At this stage, we are interested in finding out who is out there."

Ms Taylor added that the company would be looking for up to 150 managers, many of whom would be drafted into the store after being trained at the nearby Reading base, which is of a similar size to that planned in Oxford, employing up to 800 staff in total.

She said: "We do have very high standards and we are looking for top calibre people.

"Those working as section managers are not running a small shop - it is a high pressure environment but very challenging and exciting and a great starting point for people looking to establish their careers."

In return, a section manager can currently expect a salary of between £18,000 and £22,000 a year.

John Lewis is also co-owned by its employees and a generous profit share scheme is in place. This year, it led to a payout of 18 per cent, with shopfloor workers alone earning a £2,000 lump sum.

The new £330m Westgate Centre development is set to open in 2012 and as well as the new John Lewis, it is also planned to feature 127 homes, 90 new shops, bars, restaurants and cafés.

Anyone interested in applying for a managerial position at John Lewis should contact Beccy Davis on 0118 9575955 ext 4549, or see the website